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[dis-mey] /dɪsˈmeɪ/
verb (used with object)
to break down the courage of completely, as by sudden danger or trouble; dishearten thoroughly; daunt:
The surprise attack dismayed the enemy.
to surprise in such a manner as to disillusion:
She was dismayed to learn of their disloyalty.
to alarm; perturb:
The new law dismayed some of the more conservative politicians.
sudden or complete loss of courage; utter disheartenment.
sudden disillusionment.
agitation of mind; perturbation; alarm.
1275-1325; Middle English desmay (noun), de(s)mayen, dismayen (v.) < presumed AF alteration, by prefix change, of Old French esmaier to trouble, frighten < Vulgar Latin *exmagāre to disable, deprive of strength, equivalent to ex- ex- + *magāre < Germanic *magan to be able to; see may1
Related forms
[dis-meyd-nis, -mey-id-] /dɪsˈmeɪd nɪs, -ˈmeɪ ɪd-/ (Show IPA),
dismayingly, adverb
undismayed, adjective
1. appall, terrify, frighten, scare, intimidate, disconcert. See discourage. 4. consternation, terror, panic, horror, fear.
1. hearten. 4. confidence. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for dismay
  • To the dismay of scholars, the publishing giant quietly purges articles from its database.
  • To our dismay we did not see this rare creature.
  • She unzipped the door, and a blast of cold air filled our humble abode, much to our dismay.
  • My dismay is so great, I can't put it into words.
  • It is a replica of an earlier piece that was smashed by thieves who discovered to their dismay they could not extract the bills.
  • In fact, many fine folks don't send holiday cards at all — much to the dismay of Hallmark.
  • Among policymakers in the east, the dismay is tangible.
  • Only one incident at this point may dismay readers, who will find it contrived.
  • Yet the thought of his upcoming mandatory retirement fills him with dismay.
  • This scene alone would be cause for dismay, but it gets worse.
British Dictionary definitions for dismay


verb (transitive)
to fill with apprehension or alarm
to fill with depression or discouragement
consternation or agitation
Derived Forms
dismaying, adjective
Word Origin
C13: from Old French desmaiier (unattested), from des-dis-1 + esmayer to frighten, ultimately of Germanic origin; see may1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for dismay
c.1300, from O.Fr. *desmaier, from L. de- intensive prefix + O.Fr. esmaier "to trouble, disturb," from V.L. *exmagare "divest of power or ability," from P.Gmc. stem *mag- "power, ability" (cf. O.H.G. magen "to be powerful or able;" see may (v.)). Related: Dismayed.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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