Definition of miserable in English:


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  • 1(of a person) wretchedly unhappy or uncomfortable.

    ‘their happiness made Anne feel even more miserable’
    • ‘They go in with their boyfriends and they're miserable, uncomfortable and they just want to go.’
    • ‘It's no different when someone is miserable and depressed.’
    • ‘So he'd helped his miserable friend console his woe begotten soul with some more hard liquor until he'd passed out.’
    • ‘I want to be outside, but not with him there - and the thought of going to lunch by myself is so depressing that I'm miserable all over again.’
    • ‘It just - it makes the victims or their families miserable and uncomfortable, and it makes a celebrity out of the criminal.’
    • ‘He always talks about her to me, and I feel so uncomfortable and miserable.’
    • ‘Anne is miserable, alternating between laughing and despairing.’
    • ‘People are miserable when the stock is down 20 percent.’
    • ‘I was happy in the haze of a drunken hour but heaven knows I'm miserable now!’
    • ‘Basically, I'm miserable and I can't think and I can't get any work done.’
    • ‘But I ended up feeling pretty miserable most of the weekend, and guess what?’
    • ‘I'm curious, therefore, why I don't feel utterly miserable.’
    • ‘I won my game shortly after getting back that service, and their coach looked pretty miserable at the end.’
    • ‘He was sulking, sitting in front of his half-finished experiments, looking utterly miserable.’
    • ‘Now she could see that the results probably weren't too favorable for him, for he looked utterly miserable.’
    • ‘Both myself and Lesley have been absolutely miserable all week worrying about him.’
    • ‘Bryan groaned loudly and buried his head in his pillow, sounding absolutely miserable.’
    • ‘I lost, and was miserable for the rest of the day.’
    • ‘She muttered inaudibly, miserable for the rest of the day as she brooded on that dark piece of information.’
    • ‘I speak to him briefly on the phone; he has chickenpox and sounds miserable.’
    unhappy, sad, sorrowful, dejected, depressed, downcast, downhearted, down, despondent, despairing, disconsolate, out of sorts, desolate, bowed down, wretched, glum, gloomy, dismal, blue, melancholy, melancholic, low-spirited, mournful, woeful, woebegone, doleful, forlorn, crestfallen, broken-hearted, heartbroken, inconsolable, luckless, grief-stricken
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    1. 1.1(of a situation or environment) causing someone to feel wretchedly unhappy or uncomfortable.
      ‘horribly wet and miserable conditions’
      • ‘In general it was a day for the hardiest of souls as combination of biting cold and persistent flurries of rain made conditions thoroughly miserable for spectators and players alive.’
      • ‘Illegal workers have to accept terribly low wages, miserable working conditions, and essentially no benefits.’
      • ‘Their social and economic conditions were made miserable.’
      • ‘In a new twist on a miserable but familiar condition, part of the reason for this year's high pollen counts, some experts say, could be the foot and mouth crisis.’
      • ‘Some 130 million people have been removed from abject poverty but their living condition remains miserable.’
      • ‘Others complained about the miserable conditions at the shelters.’
      • ‘Even when games and coaching were possible, they often took place in utterly miserable conditions for both players and spectators.’
      • ‘After almost two years of occupation, and miserable living conditions, we want our country back.’
      • ‘Played in the most miserable wet conditions in keeping with the time of year, this was an amazing game.’
      • ‘There, under wet and miserable field conditions, members of the unit labored to create a base of operations for the Allies' final push into Germany.’
      • ‘The weather through that winter was miserable, and conditions in the camps on both sides deteriorated.’
      • ‘Many live in precarious shacks and suffer under miserable conditions.’
      • ‘She described the miserable conditions they now face without food or other relief supplies.’
      • ‘She added that the family is living in miserable conditions and there very few people who are willing to help during the time of distress and pain.’
      • ‘The waterproof model allows women to hunt in the most miserable conditions, yet stay warm and dry.’
      • ‘Played in the most miserable wet conditions in keeping with the time of year, this was an amazing game.’
      • ‘Others nearly as large found their way to the weigh station as well, despite absolutely miserable conditions.’
      • ‘And although the weather was dreadful and miserable, our humour never wavered.’
      • ‘Pathetic drizzle was annoyingly splattering on her head, and her face was irritated by the moist miserable air.’
      • ‘Overindulgence in alcohol leads to dehydration and results in those miserable sensations commonly called a hangover.’
      dreary, dismal, dark, gloomy, drab, sombre, wretched, depressing, grim, cheerless, godforsaken, bleak, desolate, joyless, uninviting, discouraging, disheartening, unpromising, hopeless, dire, pathetic, tragic, distressing, grievous
      unpleasant, disagreeable, displeasing, depressing, uncomfortable
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    2. 1.2(of a person) habitually morose.
      ‘a miserable man in his late sixties’
      • ‘He was miserable and moody, frustrated and just plain rude, insulting anyone who gave him the slightest reason.’
      • ‘Paunchy, miserable, humourless, he'd be dour if he weren't too depressed to summon up the energy.’
      • ‘Jack's right hand man is a miserable bad tempered individual with several years of service behind him.’
      • ‘The bar staff and in particular, the door staff were the most miserable, surly and unhospitable people around.’
      • ‘It is quite obvious from simply watching them that they are intensely miserable and unhappy people.’
      • ‘An unhappy and frustrated mother is going to lead to a miserable child.’
      • ‘I know, and you know, that the audience for miserable people in Bradford is small, even in Bradford, but that is not a reason for not making it; or, indeed, not reviewing it.’
      • ‘I believe that since he's imprisoned and he suffered and he's very miserable, he's a man - he has lots of anger.’
      • ‘Think of all the miserable children of millionaires with more money than they know what to do with, washing around the gossip columns, famous for their names and nothing else.’
      • ‘And though you may be a success, you're secretly miserable.’
      • ‘Is it possible that such an achievement would reduce some of the gathering anger that the poor and miserable of the earth may be inclined to direct at the rich and indifferent?’
      • ‘Yet sceptics argued that a large modern republic was not possible in Europe, with its overpowerful feudal nobilities and its hordes of miserable poor.’
      grumpy, sullen, sulky, gloomy, bad-tempered, ill-tempered, in a bad mood, dour, surly, sour, glum, moody, unsmiling, humourless, uncommunicative, taciturn, unresponsive, unsociable, scowling, glowering, ill-humoured, sombre, sober, saturnine, pessimistic, lugubrious, dismal, irritable, churlish, cantankerous, crotchety, cross, crabbed, crabby, grouchy, testy, snappish, peevish, crusty, waspish
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    3. 1.3attributive Contemptible (used as a term of abuse or for emphasis)
      ‘you miserable old creep!’
      • ‘I think they'd say I was a miserable moany old git at the best of times.’
      • ‘I happen to know that miserable wretch intimately, as I stare at him each morning in the mirror.’
      • ‘If not, they are miserable wretches who are capitalising on people's misery.’
      • ‘I should have your throat cut for cowardice you miserable wretch!’
      • ‘Luckily for the compassionate singer, the "miserable bastard" wasn't disabled.’
      • ‘"Stand up you miserable bastard," the rocker roared at one person.’
      • ‘Why not just close both levels and sell sleeping bags you miserable cold-hearted bastards?’
      • ‘‘If I say no to people then I am going to look like the miserable bloke,’ he said.’
      • ‘Like most bores, he is a very nice chap, so no-one says ‘Oh, for God's sake shut up, you miserable wretch!’’
      • ‘No, because the miserable coward wouldn't even give his name!’
      • ‘Aaron tried to scowl at the miserable creature, but it didn't faze him one bit.’
      • ‘Can someone tell me the point of employing this simpering, miserable pansy merely so that he can complain week-in, week-out about how much he hates the place?’
      • ‘How dare this miserable excuse for a Federal Government chastise any other country over pulling their troops out of Iraq.’
      wretched, contemptible, despicable, confounded
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  • 2Pitiably small or inadequate.

    ‘all they pay me is a miserable $10,000 a year’
    • ‘March's trade deficit came in at a miserable but slightly less-than-expected $31.6 billion.’
    • ‘Twenty years ago, school districts delivered miserable services to poor and minority families with no sanction.’
    • ‘Their one-day cricket last term was nothing short of miserable.’
    • ‘Book royalties being the miserable and pathetic little things that they are, the idea is not to live off them.’
    • ‘Poor and miserable facilities posed enormous hardship to competing athletes.’
    • ‘That's the only way we can stop employers exploiting us with miserable wages and inhuman conditions.’
    • ‘Social indifference or ignorance under the present conditions makes a particularly miserable program for artistic work.’
    • ‘Even Alan Greenspan sees unequal incomes as ‘a major threat to security’, a pretty miserable reason for addressing the problem.’
    inadequate, meagre, scanty, scant, paltry, limited, restricted, insufficient, deficient, negligible, insubstantial, skimpy, short, little, lean, small, slight, slender, poor, lamentable, pitiful, puny, niggardly, beggarly
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/ˈmiz(ə)rəb(ə)l/ /ˈmɪz(ə)rəb(ə)l/


Late Middle English from French misérable, from Latin miserabilis ‘pitiable’, from miserari ‘to pity’, from miser ‘wretched’.