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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
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • As I was saying, why should I pretend to be pensive and doleful, when I am as merry as a lark?

    Husks Marion Harland
  • Yonder is his flock; and there sits he on a rock blowing his doleful reed.

    The Book of Khalid Ameen Rihani
  • The Captain stood gazing at her out of the window, with his hands in his pockets and a doleful look of bewilderment on his face.

    A Change of Air Anthony Hope
  • Wild animals and doleful creatures had everywhere increased.

  • "The Jacobins will rise in consequence of this blunder," was the doleful prophecy.

  • That doleful wailing song of hers was the first chant of madness.

    The House Under the Sea Sir Max Pemberton
  • He returned to Haramont, singing the most doleful of rural ballads to the mournfullest tunes.

    The Hero of the People Alexandre Dumas
  • And again I sat on a hillock and surrendered to the most doleful meditations.

    John Splendid Neil Munro
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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