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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 wistfulness
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It begins with a sort of wistfulness, a sense of expansion follows, you go about all the time with your head in the clouds.

    The Master Mummer E. Phillips Oppenheim
  • There was a wistfulness about Tillie's mouth that set him wondering.

    K Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • Lucine watched her with a wistfulness that softened to tenderness the faint lines of native selfishness about her mouth.

    Beatrice Leigh at College Julia Augusta Schwartz
  • There had been a wistfulness, so rarely in Martin's voice, that Rose had detected it instantly.

    Dust Mr. and Mrs. Haldeman-Julius
  • The wistfulness of his tone, of his looks, would have softened any heart that was not hard as stone.

    A Life Sentence Adeline Sergeant
  • A new wistfulness was in her face, but it was not the wistfulness of hunger.

    White Fang Jack London
  • The tone was piteous in its wistfulness, and Hildegarde responded heartily.

    Hildegarde's Harvest Laura E. Richards
  • Vere smiled as she listened, but there was a wistfulness in her heart.

    A Spirit in Prison Robert Hichens
British Dictionary definitions for wistfulness


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
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Word Origin and History for wistfulness



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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