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[wist-fuh l] /ˈwɪst fəl/
characterized by melancholy; longing; yearning.
pensive, especially in a melancholy way.
Origin of wistful
1605-15; obsolete wist quiet, silent, attentive (variant of whist2) + -ful
Related forms
wistfully, adverb
wistfulness, noun
unwistful, adjective
unwistfully, adverb
unwistfulness, noun
2. reflective, musing, meditative, forlorn. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for wistful
  • One can't help feeling wistful while gazing at this final scene.
  • He looked at me with the same old gentle, wistful smile.
  • Admissions deans have perfected the wistful tone of regret.
  • All of this can make old-timers a little wistful for simpler times.
  • In the first verse, the singer is wistful about the lover but thinks they might still have a chance.
  • The reader is left with a wistful, orphaned feeling at the end.
  • There is something undeniably old-fashioned about her, nostalgic, even wistful.
  • It evokes a sort of wistful nostalgia that tugs at my poor sad guts.
  • Hundreds of bands play wistful choruses over the same four chords and don't get much further than the garage or local bar.
  • Between these two margins come many wistful, pleading, or triumphant notes.
British Dictionary definitions for wistful


sadly pensive, esp about something yearned for
Derived Forms
wistfully, adverb
wistfulness, 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 wistful

1610s, "closely attentive," from obsolete wist "intent" (c.1500), of uncertain origin. Perhaps formed on the model of wishful. The meaning of "yearningly eager" is first recorded 1714. Related: Wistfully; wistfulness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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