Definition of wretched in US English:



  • 1(of a person) in a very unhappy or unfortunate state.

    ‘I felt so wretched because I thought I might never see you again’
    • ‘He was taken aback by the sheer number of places they had found containing such wretched people.’
    • ‘I have also still got the flu to some extent, and I am feeling slightly less than wretched, but I was wretched as recently as yesterday.’
    • ‘He begs for food and wears only a loincloth and a cloak, shunning the townspeople and becoming a wretched figure with unkempt hair and long fingernails.’
    • ‘Pentheus tore away his headband from his hair, and ripped the feminine disguise from his frame that his wretched mother might recognize him!’
    • ‘You aren't the complicated villain nor the wretched hero.’
    • ‘A just man maintains his life as a wretched beggar while another, stained by well known crimes, accumulates the highest honours.’
    • ‘Have not the rich been guilty of ignoring the cry of the wretched and the poor in this little world we share?’
    • ‘I must have cut a wretched figure, filthy and sunburnt, to the brother who heard my explanations about who I was and why I was here.’
    • ‘Her eyes had widened considerably upon taking in the sight the wretched man, and she feared she might be sick from looking at his numerous injuries.’
    • ‘The only glimmer of hope for these wretched people is the emergence of organised resistance to the present policies.’
    • ‘Younger brother Prince Khurram promptly had him killed, as fraternal ambitions were not to be encouraged, even though the wretched Prince Khusrau was blind.’
    • ‘Although they were all being tenderly cared for by wonderful nurses, with plenty of personal attention and attempts to comfort and stimulate them, they were absolutely wretched.’
    • ‘A fanatic easily makes conquests among a wretched people.’
    • ‘But he doesn't make you think that the people were a poor, wretched mass of unwashed humanity.’
    • ‘The man was poor and wretched and had no claim upon the ruler, no right even to lift a solicitous hand.’
    • ‘The role of A Vijayaraghavan, MP, was significant in securing Indian citizenship for these wretched people.’
    • ‘Needless to say, Zinfer's very first day on Planet Earth had turned out to be an unbelievably wretched experience for the poor little prince.’
    • ‘Harry's wretched past revisits him vividly, trailing behind it issues of betrayal, death, punishment and revenge.’
    • ‘When these wretched people arrived at Grosse Ile it was ill-equipped to deal with such a humanitarian disaster.’
    • ‘The poor wretched beast was tied up on a rope that was too short to let him lie down.’
    miserable, unhappy, sad, broken-hearted, heartbroken, grief-stricken, grieving, sorrowful, sorrowing, mourning, anguished, distressed, desolate, devastated, despairing, inconsolable, disconsolate, downcast, down, downhearted, dejected, crestfallen, cheerless, depressed, melancholy, morose, gloomy, glum, mournful, doleful, dismal, forlorn, woeful, woebegone, abject, low-spirited, long-faced
    unfortunate, unlucky, luckless, down on one's luck, ill-starred, star-crossed, damned, blighted, hapless, poor, pitiable, distressed, downtrodden, oppressed, powerless, helpless
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Of poor quality; very bad.
      ‘the wretched conditions of the slums’
      • ‘Lawyers tend to be wretched writers, which is odd given that the written word is their stock in trade.’
      • ‘With that wretched season behind him, Wilson is now looking ahead to 2006 with renewed enthusiasm.’
      • ‘They lived in tenements and shanties of poor repair with wretched sanitary conditions.’
      • ‘It's a good exercise for me, because the quality of the campaign so far has been so wretched, it means I might learn something about them, and even make my mind up as to who to vote for.’
      • ‘Though the surroundings are far from pleasant they are not wretched.’
      • ‘Her father is a great king but a wretched parent.’
      • ‘Hundreds waited in line, even in the day's wretched weather, to try and register their willingness to help.’
      • ‘Workers and their families continued living in wretched conditions in the shadows of the buildings they had made.’
      • ‘Herb-roasted chicken was made for this wretched weather, and the jus surrounding it is soppingly worth at least half a loaf.’
      • ‘Three times the tie has been called off by wretched weather, but all the signs indicate the game at Netherfield Road will at last be played tonight at the fourth time of asking.’
      • ‘Under these wretched conditions families are being started and children reared.’
      • ‘It is true that the wretched weather has left them short of match practice and there is little cricket over the next few days in which to get their rhythm back.’
      • ‘It was clear from the outset that fast and flowing rugby would be impossible because of the wretched conditions.’
      • ‘He lived among coal miners for a time to experience the wretched conditions of the underclass during that era.’
      • ‘The submariners say it was only the comradeship which enabled crews to endure the wretched conditions.’
      • ‘The weather was of a wretched description, raining practically all day.’
      • ‘But most of them live in places where housing conditions are wretched and public services inadequate.’
      • ‘His son, Seebohm, had done more than anyone to expose the wretched living conditions of the poor in his 1901 treatise on the slums of York.’
      • ‘They can be put through wretched working conditions without a chance of redress.’
      • ‘It takes a special individual to perform those kinds of duties under such wretched conditions.’
      harsh, hard, grim, stark, difficult
      terrible, awful, dire, dreadful, atrocious, unspeakable, dismal, bad, poor, lamentable, deplorable, unsatisfactory, substandard, low-quality, inferior
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 Used to express anger or annoyance.
      ‘she disliked the wretched man intensely’
      • ‘I plopped onto the couch and that wretched dog hopped up next to me and began to bark.’
      • ‘They are wretched at dealing with anyone who applies their own principles better than they do because this pulls the moral high ground out from under them.’
      • ‘The most wretched people in the world are those who tell you they like every kind of music ‘except country.’’
      • ‘I fear the worst is yet to come, for now she has brought Father into the wretched business.’
      • ‘He is wretched, weak, ugly, inspiring contempt and disgust in not only all the supposedly good-hearted characters but also the reader.’
      • ‘He has bred 300,000 of the four legged creatures and is hoping they will eat enough of the wretched insects to mark an improvement.’
      • ‘I lost out to a friend who ate seven of the wretched things.’
      • ‘In fact, people in the developing world have become relatively poorer and more wretched.’
      • ‘However, the putrid coffee poured out of industrial Thermoses made me feel like I had just attended some sort of wretched business conference.’
      • ‘If they can't get their stories straight in this wretched business then how can they be expected to lead Scottish rugby out of the spectacular mess it has now become?’
      • ‘After all, there's nothing particularly joyful about me when I eventually do get around to the whole wretched business.’
      • ‘The development will be seen as evidence of the wretched luck which has dogged the Holyrood project.’
      • ‘Eventually, the robbers left the bank with nothing more than their very queasy stomachs after having eaten a number of bowls of this wretched vanilla pudding.’
      • ‘Her crime was to provide a false alibi for her wretched lover.’
      • ‘But he could see traces of his own face, and some of that wretched girl's, in the young man's portrait.’
      • ‘Alvarez and Marx watched as bright orange columns of flame rained down upon the wretched tangle of vines and smoke started to trail up behind them.’
      • ‘But then he reveals that their wretched father recently paid a visit.’
      • ‘Like a Pavlov dog I've been trained to associate this wretched comedy with bad odours, and for better or for worse, this sorry experience will never be repeated.’
      • ‘I don't care how much your precious Princess likes the wretched beast - if it comes near this castle, it will be killed.’
      • ‘Desperately poor health conditions are distributed with a wretched evenness across the land.’
      despicable, contemptible, beyond contempt, reprehensible, base, low, vile, mean, scurvy, abominable, loathsome, hateful, detestable, odious, disreputable, depraved, debased, infamous, villainous, ignoble, shameful, shabby, worthless
      damn, damned, blasted, blessed, flaming, precious, confounded, rotten
      View synonyms


Middle English: formed irregularly from wretch + -ed.