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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 wistfully
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "I wish you would come up to dinner to-night," said Tom, wistfully.

    A New Sensation Albert Ross
  • "My lady, my dear lady—" he began, and paused and looked at her wistfully.

    The God of Love Justin Huntly McCarthy
  • Frankly he wrote to his mother—his mammy he wistfully called her.

    The Trail of the Hawk Sinclair Lewis
  • When this did not work, the children stared at each other wistfully.

    Cricket at the Seashore Elizabeth Westyn Timlow
  • "With my present outfit I can amble clear across to Oregon," he assured himself, wistfully.

    They of the High Trails Hamlin Garland
British Dictionary definitions for wistfully


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 wistfully



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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