expressing sorrow or melancholy; mournful: a plaintive melody.

1350–1400; plaint + -ive; replacing Middle English plaintif < Middle French

plaintively, adverb
plaintiveness, noun

plaintiff, plaintive.

wistful, sorrowful, sad.

happy, joyful. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
plaintive (ˈpleɪntɪv)
expressing melancholy; mournful
[C14: from Old French plaintif grieving, from plainteplaint]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

late 14c., "lamenting," from O.Fr. plaintif "complaining," from pleint (see plaint). Sense of "mournful, sad" first recorded 1570s. Related: Plaintively.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
I've actually mistaken my Siamese's plaintive yowls for my own baby before.
That's too bad, because despite her plaintive plea, she ought to be judged.
Her voice, by turns plaintive and coaxing, is distorted to resemble a man's.
Also, a good mispronounciation came to me: plane-ta-tive instead of plaintive.
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