"You canker blossom!" 3 Shakespearean Insults


[woh-fuh l] /ˈwoʊ fəl/
full of woe; wretched; unhappy:
a woeful situation.
affected with, characterized by, or indicating woe:
woeful melodies.
of wretched quality; sorry; poor:
a woeful collection of paintings.
Also, woful.
Origin of woeful
1250-1300; Middle English; see woe, -ful
Related forms
woefully, adverb
woefulness, noun
unwoeful, adjective
unwoefully, adverb
unwoefulness, noun
3. unpromising, unlikely, dreadful, awful. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for woeful
  • There is a woeful lack of information on the efficiency of light sources.
  • They are permitted to remain in this woeful state of ignorance and self-indulgence by their professorial blinders.
  • They depend on woeful narratives of national decline, of which there is lately no shortage.
  • As to your earlier point about common ancestry, you again display a woeful lack of understanding of the underlying evidence.
  • Most parents have a woeful lack of knowledge about basic nutrition.
  • The woeful legacy of the crisis could be a supersized banking system gorging on the taxpayers' tab.
  • Health-service delivery is widely considered woeful.
  • But discord in the cabinet, and a woeful absence of discussion about the budget next year and beyond, have left many worried.
  • Rather, they are caused by a woeful lack of risk management.
  • Riots erupted in several cities over the woeful, and worsening, supply of electricity to a rapidly urbanising population.
British Dictionary definitions for woeful


expressing or characterized by sorrow
bringing or causing woe
pitiful; miserable: a woeful standard of work
Derived Forms
woefully, adverb
woefulness, 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 woeful

c.1300, "afflicted with sorrow," from woe + -ful. Weakened sense of "very bad" recorded by 1610s. Related: Woefully; woefulness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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