Definition of woeful in US English:



  • 1Characterized by, expressive of, or causing sorrow or misery.

    ‘her face was woeful’
    • ‘He turns to Cymry and widens his eyes, giving her such a droll, woeful and aghast look all in one that she starts laughing anew.’
    • ‘His face was grotesque, but only to the extent that the embossed lines in several shades of ice depicted some terribly misshapen and woeful beast.’
    • ‘He was a woeful man altogether, letters here, there and everywhere and it would have been a fair auld job to write one of his usually long letters.’
    • ‘Coinciding with this woeful happening, a howling wind blew dreadfully.’
    • ‘He used to draw woeful crowds, especially to the Square above.’
    • ‘Yes, there has been woeful carnage and suffering aplenty.’
    • ‘I said, giving him a woeful look behind my entirely smeared mascara.’
    • ‘He sounded so woeful, his expression so longing, that I had felt sympathy for him.’
    • ‘But for manufacturers to use their idling workforce to their own ends reminds us of the beggar's use of the woeful dog he has just kicked.’
    • ‘Talked to Sherri this time and relayed my woeful tale.’
    • ‘He felt a tug on his heart as he watched her face, her woeful expression silhouetted by the moonlight.’
    sad, unhappy, miserable, woebegone, doleful, forlorn, crestfallen, glum, gloomy, dejected, downcast, disconsolate, downhearted, despondent, depressed, despairing, dismal, melancholy, broken-hearted, heartbroken, inconsolable, grief-stricken
    tragic, sad, saddening, unhappy, sorrowful, miserable, cheerless, wretched, sorry, pitiful, pathetic, pitiable, gloomy, grievous, traumatic, upsetting, depressing, distressing, heartbreaking, heart-rending, tear-jerking, agonizing, harrowing
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    1. 1.1 Very bad; deplorable.
      ‘the remark was enough to establish his woeful ignorance about the theater’
      • ‘Humiliating, inept, woeful, pitiful - the number of adjectives to describe City's performance could run and run.’
      • ‘Do I write about how I have recently become a new man, or at least an old man with new possessions, or do I write about the recent woeful state of my blogging psyche?’
      • ‘I was hitting the ball great, but my putting was woeful.’
      • ‘Hopefully, the pathetic and woeful situation that has been allowed to arise will bring people to their senses, at least on the playing side.’
      • ‘And the incident has laid bare the woeful lack of facilities in Scotland for the proper treatment of offenders with mental disorders.’
      • ‘How else to explain the woeful imbalances contained in the proposed extradition treaty between Britain and the UK which we have just discussed?’
      • ‘With the game being a drudgery of spilled balls, abject kicking and woeful execution of the few scoring opportunities that were created the mind wandered.’
      • ‘Owen Hughes says Tuesday night was a pathetic and woeful effort which he was extremely embarrassed and angry about.’
      • ‘At the start of the second half some woeful defending let Bamber Bridge in under the sticks to stretch their lead even further and the game was slipping away from the Harriers.’
      • ‘Many roads are in a woeful condition and need to be upgraded.’
      • ‘His main challenge will be to draw down sufficient funds to bring about a dramatic change to the woeful state of the country's infrastructure.’
      • ‘As adults, we should set a better example: the recent rise in drink-drive cases suggests a woeful attitude towards alcohol and the law.’
      • ‘Last weekend's wet, wild and woeful trip to gloomy south Wales did turn out to have a silver lining for at least one Borders player.’
      • ‘He stopped and chatted and spoke of how this hard-won point just might be the kick-start Rangers need, the turning point in their woeful season.’
      • ‘I feel it is high time that the county council reassessed its woeful decision to install those cursed traffic lights at Scale Hall corner.’
      • ‘Actually, the Kincaid character had a woeful start, spending the first of her three seasons as a tedious, incompetent waif.’
      • ‘The initial baking was fine, but my decoration was woeful.’
      • ‘Let's not forget Jackson's woeful job on the script.’
      • ‘I have suffered through some woeful hurling games this summer.’
      • ‘The answers lie in stiff competition in their domestic markets, in woeful mismanagement, even the collapse of some businesses.’
      • ‘One of her jobs was to pull together party headquarters in Glasgow at a time when it was in woeful disarray - a task at which she manifestly failed and was then sidelined.’
      • ‘They leak badly, have woeful change and shower facilities, and have antiquated pumping and filtration equipment.’
      • ‘However, the covers are generally woeful, neither standing out at first glance amidst a crowded newsstand, or providing any lasting meaning.’
      • ‘The condition of some of the roads in the region is woeful.’
      • ‘Not that I mind so much working late on a Friday, since it helps to keep my mind occupied and prevents me contemplating my woeful lack of a meaningful social life.’
      • ‘I was later to learn that my track positioning was woeful as I was pointing the kart out of corners instead of vice-versa - or was it the other way round?’
      • ‘What's really repellent about the editorial, though, isn't just the woeful inaccuracies.’
      • ‘The away team were a woeful version of their best, and it is little wonder that manager Calderwood is so frustrated by the way their game falters the minute they go on the road.’
      • ‘A shaming indictment of the woeful British attitude to sport at grassroots level, McKenna's story is difficult to believe.’
      • ‘It looks very much as if it was a woeful effort on December 26.’
      • ‘Pickering's woeful start continued when they slipped to their third defeat at Clifton Alliance but at least their batsmen began to show a semblance of form.’
      • ‘The committee concluded that the paper trail on this whole sorry transaction was woeful.’
      • ‘It is pathetic and woeful, and it is a slap in the face of the victims of this country.’
      • ‘He is handsome, charismatic and a terrific actor, yet he really should have spent more time improving his English, which was woeful.’
      • ‘Kildare's performance against Fermanagh last March was woeful.’
      • ‘His positioning is woeful, as is his decision-making.’
      dreadful, very bad, awful, terrible, frightful, atrocious, disgraceful, deplorable, shameful, hopeless, lamentable, laughable, substandard, poor, inadequate, inferior, unsatisfactory
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