9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[pleyn-tiv] /ˈpleɪn tɪv/
expressing sorrow or melancholy; mournful:
a plaintive melody.
Origin of plaintive
1350-1400; plaint + -ive; replacing Middle English plaintif < Middle French
Related forms
plaintively, adverb
plaintiveness, noun
Can be confused
plaintiff, plaintive.
wistful, sorrowful, sad.
happy, joyful. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for plaintive
  • 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.
  • Modern poetry can be plaintive or richly idiomatic, or both.
  • Wandering like a plaintive shadow about the places where I dwell.
  • The boy sings in plaintive tones with sweeping string backgrounds and augmented choral effects.
  • The online posts appear earnest, but not plaintive.
  • That plaintive comment is echoing from coast to coast.
  • Much of this music was melodically plaintive.
British Dictionary definitions for plaintive


expressing melancholy; mournful
Derived Forms
plaintively, adverb
plaintiveness, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French plaintif grieving, from plainteplaint
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 plaintive

late 14c., "lamenting," from Old French plaintif "complaining; wretched, miserable," from plainte (see plaint). Sense of "mournful, sad" first recorded 1570s. Related: Plaintively; plaintiveness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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