Definition of wistful in English:



  • Having or showing a feeling of vague or regretful longing:

    ‘a wistful smile’
    • ‘There was a wistful, daydreaming quality to Pete's voice that lulled me almost to sleep as we rode.’
    • ‘Clarke has responded to his critics with a dollop of wistful regret, followed by an adamant refusal to back down.’
    • ‘This part of the song comes out as something of a wistful ballad, but more interesting than most.’
    • ‘What distinguishes Harcourt from his contemporaries is the way he laces his stories with wistful charm and surreal humour.’
    • ‘The look on his face is, by now, nearly wistful; the smile almost bittersweet.’
    • ‘Christian's eyebrows rose good-naturedly and his bow shaped mouth formed a wistful smile.’
    • ‘She chuckled lightly and exhaled a sigh caught somewhere in between wistful and dreamy.’
    • ‘Tin became wistful and in a surge of nostalgia offered to show me round.’
    • ‘Director Bob Baker seems to have an innate understanding of the Coward paradox, that wistful vitriol.’
    • ‘As I scraped applesauce and cream of eel from countless plates I felt wistful.’
    • ‘The entire point of this post wasn't to engage in wistful remembrances.’
    • ‘If you ask about her previous boyfriend and she gets a small, wistful smile on her face, change the subject.’
    • ‘I could see him going back in time and a small, wistful smile curled up on his lips.’
    • ‘He held in a wistful sigh and smiled warmly when her eyes flicked up in the mirror, meeting his.’
    • ‘It has a wistful quality, a longing for a world gone never to return, which an author of Sampson's vintage can and should be excused.’
    • ‘All four wistful and melodic tracks document yearning and loss with an almost angelic intervention.’
    • ‘They ran through emotions from funny, romantic and sad, to witty, wistful and thought-provoking.’
    • ‘Gregory felt a chill run up his spine at the wistful, dreamy tone of her voice.’
    • ‘Hanging in the heart of Edinburgh, Constable's vision of Dedham Vale is a wistful window on to the very soul of rural England.’
    • ‘And so, against all the odds, and all the elements, Powell got to make his wistful and impassioned film.’
    regretful, nostalgic, yearning, longing
    plaintive, rueful, melancholy, sad, mournful, forlorn, disconsolate, woebegone, doleful
    pensive, reflective, contemplative, meditative, dreamy, daydreaming, in a reverie
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Early 17th century: apparently from obsolete wistly intently, influenced by wishful.