Definition of wistful in English:


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

    ‘a wistful smile’
    • ‘Clarke has responded to his critics with a dollop of wistful regret, followed by an adamant refusal to back down.’
    • ‘The look on his face is, by now, nearly wistful; the smile almost bittersweet.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Christian's eyebrows rose good-naturedly and his bow shaped mouth formed a wistful smile.’
    • ‘He held in a wistful sigh and smiled warmly when her eyes flicked up in the mirror, meeting his.’
    • ‘Gregory felt a chill run up his spine at the wistful, dreamy tone of her voice.’
    • ‘She chuckled lightly and exhaled a sigh caught somewhere in between wistful and dreamy.’
    • ‘There was a wistful, daydreaming quality to Pete's voice that lulled me almost to sleep as we rode.’
    • ‘What distinguishes Harcourt from his contemporaries is the way he laces his stories with wistful charm and surreal humour.’
    • ‘All four wistful and melodic tracks document yearning and loss with an almost angelic intervention.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Hanging in the heart of Edinburgh, Constable's vision of Dedham Vale is a wistful window on to the very soul of rural England.’
    • ‘The entire point of this post wasn't to engage in wistful remembrances.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This part of the song comes out as something of a wistful ballad, but more interesting than most.’
    • ‘They ran through emotions from funny, romantic and sad, to witty, wistful and thought-provoking.’
    • ‘As I scraped applesauce and cream of eel from countless plates I felt wistful.’
    • ‘And so, against all the odds, and all the elements, Powell got to make his wistful and impassioned film.’
    regretful, nostalgic, yearning, longing
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/ˈwis(t)fəl/ /ˈwɪs(t)fəl/


Early 17th century apparently from obsolete wistly ‘intently’, influenced by wishful.