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[dreer-ee] /ˈdrɪər i/
adjective, drearier, dreariest.
causing sadness or gloom.
dull; boring.
sorrowful; sad.
Origin of dreary
before 900; Middle English drery, Old English drēorig gory, cruel, sad, equivalent to drēor gore + -ig -y1; akin to Old Norse dreyrigr bloody, German traurig sad
Related forms
drearily, adverb
dreariness, noun
drearisome, adjective
1. gloomy, dismal, drear, cheerless, depressing, comfortless. 2. tedious, monotonous, wearisome, tiresome.
1. cheerful. 2. interesting. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for dreary
  • This man was doing nothing more than trying to brighten our dreary little worlds, after all.
  • Thank you for helping me start my dreary work day with a hearty laugh.
  • Most modern life is dreary, with an awful lot of routine drudgery.
  • Your letter arrived as something to alleviate winter's dreary grays.
  • This afternoon I smiled at the beauty of the foothills when the clouds lifted following a dreary wet gray morning.
  • Judging from the trailer, it looks dreary and dull.
  • Some days must be dark and dreary.
  • It was clean but dreary, painted institutional green.
  • Meetings were a dreary routine of memorizing and reciting rules and axioms.
  • The building was anonymous, the fluorescent-lighted stairway dreary.
British Dictionary definitions for dreary


adjective drearier, dreariest
sad or dull; dismal
wearying; boring
(archaic) miserable
Also (literary) drear
Derived Forms
drearily, adverb
dreariness, noun
Word Origin
Old English drēorig gory; related to Old High German trūreg sad
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 dreary

Old English dreorig "sad, sorrowful," originally "cruel, bloody, blood-stained," from dreor "gore, blood," from (ge)dreosan (past participle droren) "fall, decline, fail," from West Germanic *dreuzas (cf. Old Norse dreyrigr "gory, bloody," and more remotely, German traurig "sad, sorrowful"), from PIE root *dhreu- "to fall, flow, drip, droop" (see drip (v.)).

The word has lost its original sense of "dripping blood." Sense of "dismal, gloomy" first recorded 1667 in "Paradise Lost," but Old English had a related verb drysmian "become gloomy."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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