Definition of plaintive in English:

plaintive

adjective

  • Sounding sad and mournful.

    ‘a plaintive cry’
    • ‘From a whooshing, gurgling still comes the ringing, plaintive and mournful.’
    • ‘The plaintive cry of kids playing in their streets and gardens for many years has been ‘We want our ball back.’’
    • ‘There are plaintive cries from MSPs about their workload, which, they argue, can only be sustained with their current numbers.’
    • ‘My wife was expecting this to be boring but was pleasantly surprised which resulted in the plaintive cry of why wasn't science like that when she was at school.’
    • ‘Aside from resorting to plaintive cries and groans, in the first half there was little cause for the Tartan Army to exercise their vocal chords.’
    • ‘I break away only to hear its plaintive cries through the rest of my visit.’
    • ‘It was only when she started being plaintive and forlorn that we returned to her.’
    • ‘The lawns are luxurious, the sky is blue, and a lone hawk circles above, gives a plaintive cry and wheels away.’
    • ‘This plaintive cry came from a number of sources, so we are attempting to provide enlightenment.’
    • ‘As the drums of war grow louder, so do the plaintive cries of the Irish neutrality lobby.’
    • ‘The mood, carried by the winds and strings, is generally plaintive, even melancholy.’
    • ‘The songbirds had returned, but their calls sounded ever so plaintive and piteous.’
    • ‘The denials issuing from Santos are almost pathetic in their plaintive appeal to maintenance of the status quo.’
    • ‘Played with a plaintive acoustic edge, it's even more heart-rending than the original.’
    • ‘A mixture of the everyday and the grotesque, they read at times like plaintive notes from a boarding school, from a child who fears she has been forgotten.’
    • ‘As I neared home I heard a weak and plaintive female voice coming from above saying ‘Excuse me’.’
    • ‘The first tune was the Goltrai, a sad plaintive tune for all who died.’
    • ‘The plaintive call of the bird can be heard most evenings in the area.’
    • ‘After making modest progress on the phone, he follows up with a plaintive letter laying out his case in detail.’
    • ‘I suppose it was because Wendy knew this that her last words to him were these rather plaintive ones.’
    mournful, sad, wistful, doleful, pathetic, pitiful, piteous, melancholy, melancholic, sorrowful, unhappy, wretched, woeful, grief-stricken, broken-hearted, heartbroken, desolate, heart-rending, forlorn, woebegone, disconsolate
    View synonyms

Origin

Late Middle English from Old French plaintif, -ive, from plainte ‘lamentation’ (see plaint).

Pronunciation

plaintive

/ˈpleɪntɪv/