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or woful

[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.
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
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • In this woeful situation, though extremely weak, I was not deprived of sense.

    Caleb Williams William Godwin
  • At length the frost and snow really did come, and the Chickadees were in a woeful case.

    Johnny Bear E. T. Seton
  • After all, he, even he, had not committed the most woeful of all blunders; though it was a mystery how he had escaped it.

    The Whirlpool George Gissing
  • And you cannot yet understand all the woeful sadness of the things of which I have been talking to you.

  • The servant ought not to be of woeful countenance before guests, but should receive them with an affable mind.

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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