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[dohl-fuh l] /ˈdoʊl fəl/
sorrowful; mournful; melancholy:
a doleful look on her face.
Origin of doleful
1225-75; Middle English dol-ful. See dole2, -ful
Related forms
dolefully, adverb
dolefulness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for doleful
  • Burnished doves moan their doleful love songs and young men's fancies turn.
  • For amid all the doleful news, there is a hopeful tide.
  • My daughter sat down at the piano to play something doleful.
  • But in the basement the mood was anything but doleful.
  • The cadence, the doleful, resigned tone of these words is not unfamiliar.
  • Even a sad story does not seem quite so doleful in this context.
  • We asked of each other's welfare, bemoaning our doleful condition and the change that had come upon us.
British Dictionary definitions for doleful


dreary; mournful Archaic word dolesome (ˈdəʊlsəm)
Derived Forms
dolefully, adverb
dolefulness, noun
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 doleful

late 13c., with -ful, from Middle English dole "grief" (early 13c.), from Old French doel (Modern French deuil), from Late Latin dolus "grief," from Latin dolere "suffer, grieve." Related: Dolefully.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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