Definition of dismal in English:


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  • 1Depressing; dreary.

    ‘the dismal weather made the late afternoon seem like evening’
    • ‘And mine is the world of the rented room, where damp creeps in in the dismal gloom and music is the only thing I own.’
    • ‘As glorious Tramore yet again defied the dismal weather forecasts the fans flocked to the seaside venue.’
    • ‘One idea is pushing election day back into October, to spare voters going to the polls in dismal weather.’
    • ‘The dismal weather for much of the week was no help and there were times when Tralee Racecourse was a drab place to be.’
    • ‘Last year I grew a dark red variety which was really striking, thriving on neglect despite the dismal weather.’
    • ‘In achieving this aim, the frequently dismal weather helps immeasurably.’
    • ‘A polar jet stream appears to be the cause of the dismal weather, say the experts.’
    • ‘It's a grey day but this place feels as if it would be dismal regardless of the weather.’
    • ‘No one's mood was helped by the dismal weather outdoors, the sky was grey and the wind was blasting.’
    • ‘Little wavelets came up around his feet, oily and silent in this dismal weather.’
    • ‘The weather's dismal and the light grey and the landscape reminds you of everything that's hellish about the country.’
    • ‘She'd been walking so long she barely noticed the cold and damp, the sticking mud and the dismal weather.’
    • ‘It's a chance for cultural liberation, to escape the dismal oppression of autocratic bullies.’
    • ‘That afternoon the weather was overcast and somewhat dismal, with light snow falling almost continually.’
    • ‘The dismal picture that emerges is indeed depressing, and sometimes infuriating.’
    • ‘Ali led me up a narrow path way lined with trees and brush, to a small cabin that looked desolated and dismal.’
    • ‘Muddy lanes surround dismal tin shacks and there is an aura of despondency and despair, which even the myriads of children do little to dispel.’
    • ‘Suddenly, the onslaught of dismal economic news seems to be weighing heavily on the president and his party.’
    • ‘He finally appeared from the depths of the dismal room dressed in his usual black turtleneck and blue jeans.’
    • ‘They looked like a ray of light in that dismal room.’
    dingy, dim, dark, gloomy, sombre, dreary, drab, dull, desolate, bleak, cheerless, comfortless, depressing, grim, funereal, inhospitable, uninviting, unwelcoming
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    1. 1.1(of a person or a mood) gloomy.
      ‘his dismal mood was not dispelled by finding the house empty’
      • ‘Her reassuring smile did little to reassure her dismal friends.’
      • ‘After the past 10 days in the spotlight, internal morale for the 200 STB staff is dismal.’
      • ‘If these really are the views of those around him, one fears he must run with a rather dismal crowd.’
      • ‘On a fatal journey back to England a storm rocked his ship and as the crew and dismal captain bailed water from the ship, an amazing thing happened for John.’
      • ‘I toyed again with my gin, not quite certain why my mood was such hopeless, dismal despair.’
      • ‘Gail marched after the man enthusiastically, followed by a rather nervous Emy, a dismal Mary, and a grinning Nora.’
      • ‘In the morning as the dismal crowds drained from their former residences into the Mission Square the old man died.’
      • ‘Remember the light that shone from me long ago if I am too dismal now, but remember me.’
      • ‘It sent a chilling message of cold and dismal feelings through my body; I didn't want to hold on any more, so I gently removed my fingers from the window.’
      • ‘It's at this point that we come to the dismal apprehension of why attention waned in the first place.’
      • ‘However, one staff member told the Western People that although the mood is dismal at the plant, the staff realise that it is not just them who will lose out.’
      • ‘I had a hard time being in a dismal mood when Riley was with me.’
      • ‘I laughed despite my dismal mood and felt better than I had all night.’
      • ‘Dull, dismal and discarded, he wallows in misery and loathing.’
      • ‘They were indeed friendly; however, their disposition was dark and dismal.’
      • ‘For some reason, any childhood memory in this city has always been bleak and dismal at best.’
      gloomy, glum, mournful, melancholy, morose, doleful, woeful, woebegone, forlorn, abject, dejected, depressed, dispirited, downcast, crestfallen, despondent, disconsolate, miserable, sad, unhappy, sorrowful, sorrowing, desolate, wretched, lugubrious
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    2. 1.2 informal Pitifully or disgracefully bad.
      • ‘he shuddered as he watched his team's dismal performance’
      • ‘The play is a history of his romantic failures, with amorous adventures ranging from the comic to the pitiful but always dismal failures.’
      • ‘This self-centredness bothered some of his followers, who quit after the party's dismal electoral performance.’
      • ‘By that measure, too, Australia's recent performance looks dismal.’
      • ‘The mishap with the bus did not help but it cannot be blamed totally for this dismal performance.’
      • ‘America and Japan also had fairly strong growth, although Western Europe had a more dismal performance.’
      • ‘The coaches must get the offense in a productive mode after last season's dismal performance.’
      • ‘It was a dismal performance and another man might have been broken by it.’
      • ‘This year's campaign will follow the dismal showing of 2004 where the event didn't even get off the ground because of a lack of interest.’
      • ‘First, I managed to get up at 4am, even after a really dismal night's sleep.’
      • ‘We see this as nothing but the most dismal of choices and are saddened to see the determined few who want to create the ruination of many.’
      • ‘We were dismal in the Hong Kong history round, but did satisfactorily in current events.’
      • ‘There is no magic formula to reduce these dismal figures.’
      • ‘Failing to do so imperils his chances by giving us nothing to be excited about, much less to work for and a likely dismal voter turnout.’
      • ‘The club partly blamed crashing out of Europe to Feyenoord, which went on to win the UEFA Cup, for the dismal figures.’
      • ‘But this is the limit of the good news to be dredged from a dismal couple of days in Brussels.’
      • ‘These are dismal figures, forcing the people of Taiwan to face the cruel reality of an economic winter.’
      • ‘The league's nonconference winning percentage was worse than last season's dismal figure.’
      • ‘These dismal figures don't include the entitlement reforms proposed by the President.’
      • ‘I can tell you, I was in a very poor mood for quite a while due to the dismal turnout.’
      • ‘Our effort to tame nature so that the temperature is always comfortable has been a dismal failure.’
      bad, poor, dreadful, awful, terrible, pitiful, disgraceful, lamentable, deplorable
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/ˈdizm(ə)l/ /ˈdɪzm(ə)l/


    the dismal science
    • Economics.


      Coined by Thomas Carlyle.

    the dismals
    archaic, informal
    • Low spirits.

      • ‘a fit of the dismals’


Late Middle English from earlier dismal (noun), denoting the two days in each month which in medieval times were believed to be unlucky, from Anglo-Norman French dis mal, from medieval Latin dies mali ‘evil days’.