Definition of misery in English:


Pronunciation /ˈmiz(ə)rē/ /ˈmɪz(ə)ri/

See synonyms for misery

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  • 1A state or feeling of great distress or discomfort of mind or body.

    ‘she went upstairs and cried in misery’
    • ‘he wrote endlessly about his frustrations and miseries’
    • ‘This tale of physical misery, compelling as it is, is not the main focus of Young's play.’
    • ‘The physical misery it causes has been compared to advanced cardiac disease or cancer.’
    • ‘There were tears and dejection and frustration and misery and anger for North Ribblesdale last Saturday.’
    • ‘The people who are refugees in their own land will keep living in distress, fear and misery.’
    • ‘Human suffering, pain, misery, separation and bereavement are inevitable when wars are fought.’
    • ‘Beth let out a cry of misery and her exhausted mind finally let her slip into unconsciousness.’
    • ‘The rage and the frustration and misery all poured out as the tears trickled down my face.’
    • ‘If next week's action goes ahead, motorists will face long queues, frustration and misery.’
    • ‘She caused untold hardship and misery to millions of families who suffered needless unemployment.’
    • ‘They, too, had experienced fear, suffered misery, and had in manifold ways been victims of the war.’
    • ‘However, he would not miss an opportunity to stare poverty and human misery in its face in any of the countries he visited.’
    • ‘We must undergo a serious soul searching because the continent cannot continue to be a place of poverty and misery.’
    • ‘They are the anti-heroic instigators of death and destruction, misery and suffering.’
    • ‘In doing this you would save them and yourself from misery and heartaches.’
    • ‘That disaster has repeatedly brought home the face of suffering and misery over the last few months.’
    • ‘This is the only way, he said, to reduce the pain and misery caused by farm accidents.’
    • ‘There has been too much misery and suffering inflicted on the peoples of the region.’
    • ‘Untold human misery and suffering could be stemmed if Parkinson's disease became treatable.’
    • ‘It is an image of pure misery and despair, brimming with symbolism and the essential mystery of all religion.’
    unhappiness, distress, wretchedness, hardship, suffering, affliction, anguish, anxiety, angst, torment, torture, hell, agony, pain, discomfort, deprivation, poverty, grief, heartache, heartbreak, heartbrokenness, despair, despondency, dejection, depression, desolation, gloom, gloominess, low spirits, moroseness, doldrums, melancholy, melancholia, woe, sadness, sorrow
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    1. 1.1usually miseriesA cause or source of great distress or discomfort.
      ‘the miseries of war’
      • ‘The ‘patriarchal family’ was held to be the main source of children's miseries.’
      • ‘As long as we live in this world, we are bound to suffer the miseries and afflictions that beset the human being.’
      • ‘What is more, it is as simple as the solution which, after the Second World War, we applied to correct the economic and other miseries that had plagued us during the Great Depression of the 1930s.’
      • ‘He said the people of Gujarat had undergone the same sufferings and miseries that one experiences during war.’
      • ‘In Iraq every day even the best of intentions are cruelly put to test by the miseries and sorrows of war.’
      • ‘Most Americans now alive have gone their whole lives believing they had something approaching a free pass to escape the miseries of war, terror, and want.’
      • ‘Whether mourning the miseries of war, praying for divine help or preparing herself for death, it seemed as if her life as a writer was at its end.’
      • ‘To know the truth of that, you need only walk out onto any street in any city in this country; you know that within minutes - seconds - you will see some of the one-third or more of our nation that suffers the miseries of being poor.’
      • ‘Meaning thereby that in abstract terms whenever there is an excess of miseries, ailments and problems, the victims thereof have nothing but to develop a sense of resignation, tolerance and contentment.’
      • ‘Unaware of what was in store, a passenger ship had left Kochi for Lakshadweep on May 3 and, after several hours of hellish miseries suffered by the passengers at the hostile sea, it came back.’
      • ‘Above all, we sought to bring an end to the miseries that had plagued us in the 1930s and 1940s, and, in particular, to put an end to economic depression and war.’
      • ‘The litany of daily miseries suffered by the powerless public of the subcontinent on both sides of the border should make us ask, why?’
      • ‘His murals aimed to convert the illiterate and heterogeneous masses to a realization of the miseries and futilities of war.’
      • ‘Not only it has added to the miseries of those who depended for livelihood mainly on this source, banks have also been deprived of the huge inflow of funds which the government could have used for development works.’
      • ‘The author skilfully depicts the military situation as the vast Soviet armies approached the German heartland, anxious to exact revenge for the miseries that Russians had suffered since the invasion of 1941.’
      • ‘Indeed the sort of commitment that permits soldiers to endure the suffering and miseries of Valley Forge or Gettysburg has to be ideologically prepared and tempered.’
      • ‘Bear all miseries and evil without any murmur of hurt, without any thought of unhappiness, without any resistance, remedy or retaliation.’
      • ‘In his last years his work became ever more violent in expression, moved by a passionate concern for the suffering and miseries of mankind.’
      • ‘Human lives suffer from miseries and deprivations of various kinds, some more amenable to alleviation than others.’
      • ‘Once our divine origin was fixed, human miseries were explained as the punishment for some original sin committed by our first ancestors.’
      affliction, misfortune, difficulty, problem, adversity, ordeal, trouble, hardship, deprivation
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    put someone or something out of their misery
    • 1End the suffering of a person or animal in pain by killing them.

      ‘I'll send him to our “hospice” tent and then I'll put him out of his misery’
      • ‘Sometimes it was expressed informally, as when spectators at public demonstrations quietly put the animal subjects out of their misery.’
      • ‘He says a doctor approached him, saying a hospital administrator wanted to know what he thought about putting patients out of their misery.’
      • ‘Authorities are reviewing patient records, trying to evaluate claims that he administered fatal overdoses of medication to seriously ill patients to put them out of their misery.’
      • ‘I would like to feel that if I had a close friend or relative in agony with no prospect of any relief that someone would be able to put them out of their misery.’
      • ‘I just hope that if she was hunting birds she put them out of their misery, unlike that poor thing this morning.’
      • ‘Lastly think about this, we put animals down, this is looked upon as humane and is justified so why can we not put a person out of their misery?’
      • ‘When they are asked why they did it they say, ‘We were being kind to them, they were wounded and we were putting them out of their misery.’’
      1. 1.1informal Release someone from suspense or anxiety by telling them something they are anxious to know.
        • ‘listeners were put out of their misery just before midday when broadcasters admitted it was an April Fool's joke’
        • ‘Maybe I should just put them out of their misery and just tell them the truth?’
    make someone's life a misery
    • Cause someone severe distress by continued unpleasantness or harassment.

      ‘the blackmail that was making his father's life a misery’
      • ‘She felt guilty about Stella making your life a misery.’
      • ‘For a start, the new measure will not apply to existing tenants - so if you already live next door to someone who is making your life a misery, this won't help at all.’
      • ‘We have a duty to protect the law abiding majority against those who are making their life a misery.’
      • ‘The council decision is making my life a misery.’
      • ‘‘Then I will make your life a misery,’ the merchant threatened.’
      • ‘But what happens when you encounter the client from hell who complains endlessly about everything your company does and has made it his mission to make your life a misery?’
      • ‘Michael, seven, who has had to deal with countless operations, also had the strength to beat the thugs who make his life a misery.’
      • ‘Wasn't her plan to stay with him purely so she could make his life a misery?’
      • ‘It is a great pity that the sad, sick morons who have made our life a misery for endless weeks now had not been born two or three generations earlier.’
      • ‘The rap singer claimed he needed the pistol to protect himself from jealous thugs who had made his life a misery.’


Late Middle English from Old French miserie, from Latin miseria, from miser ‘wretched’.