Word of the Day

Monday, April 07, 2008


\WOE-bee-gon\ , adjective;
Beset or overwhelmed with woe; immersed in grief or sorrow; woeful.
Being in a sorry condition; dismal-looking; dilapidated; run-down.
Socrates, condemned to death by the people of Athens, prepares to drink a cup of hemlock, surrounded by woebegone friends.
-- Alain De Botton, The Consolations of Philosophy
This woebegone lot includes Henry, a real-estate developer whose dream project has, like his marriage, slipped into bankruptcy; Henry's sister, Wiloma, who has hurled herself headlong into the arms of a New Age church to survive her own divorce; and Henry and Wiloma's decrepit Uncle Brendan, a former monk whose faith has eroded along with his health, stranding him in a nursing home.
-- Jennifer Howard, review of The Forms of Water by Andrea Barrett, New York Times, June 13, 1996
After 40 years as a producer he thinks of himself as a battered, scarred but well-armoured animal, "like an old turtle"; and if such creatures could speak they would probably sound like [him], a bit woebegone but drolly unsurprised by life's vicissitudes.
-- "Time for another Hugo hit", Times (London), May 22, 2000
Woebegone is from Middle English wo begon, from wo (from Old English wa, used to express grief) + begon, past participle of begon, "to go about, to beset," from Old English began, bigan, from bi-, "around, about" + gan, "to go."
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