1 [bleek]
adjective, bleaker, bleakest.
bare, desolate, and often windswept: a bleak plain.
cold and piercing; raw: a bleak wind.
without hope or encouragement; depressing; dreary: a bleak future.

1300–50; Middle English bleke pale, blend of variants bleche (Old English blǣc) and blake (Old English blāc); both cognate with Old Norse bleikr, German bleich; akin to bleach

bleakish, adjective
bleakly, adverb
bleakness, noun

3. See austere. Unabridged


2 [bleek]
a European freshwater fish, Alburnus alburnus, having scales with a silvery pigment that is used in the production of artificial pearls.

1400–50; late Middle English bleke, noun use of bleke pale; see bleak1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
bleak1 (bliːk)
1.  exposed and barren; desolate
2.  cold and raw
3.  offering little hope or excitement; dismal: a bleak future
[Old English blāc bright, pale; related to Old Norse bleikr white, Old High German bleih pale]

bleak2 (bliːk)
any slender silvery European cyprinid fish of the genus Alburnus, esp A. lucidus, occurring in slow-flowing rivers
[C15: probably from Old Norse bleikja white colour; related to Old High German bleichebleach]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1300, from O.N. bleikr "pale," from P.Gmc. *blaika- "shining, white," from PIE base *bhel- (1) "to shine, flash, burn" (see bleach). Sense of "cheerless" is c.1719 figurative extension. The same Germanic root produced O.E. blac "pale," but this died out, probably from confusion
with blæc "black;" but bleikr persisted, with a sense of "bare" as well as "pale." Related: Bleakness (c.1600).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica


(Alburnus alburnus), small, slender fish of the carp family, Cyprinidae, found in rivers and lakes of England and Europe. A silvery-green fish, it grows to a maximum length of about 20 centimetres (8 inches). It lives in schools, usually near the surface, and eats aquatic invertebrates. The bleak is edible but bony. Its scales are used in eastern Europe for the manufacture of artificial pearls.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
In light of human population pressures and deforestation, the future appears
  bleak for the wild tiger.
McCorkle paints a bleak picture that becomes all the more depressing if
  extended to its logical conclusion.
Both the plot and the atmosphere of the film are extremely bleak.
There is no denying that the employment landscape looks bleak and barren.
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