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  • IPA(key): /bliːk/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -iːk

Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English bleke (also bleche > English bleach (pale, bleak)), and bleike (due to Old Norse), and earlier Middle English blak, blac (pale, wan), from Old English blǣc, blǣċ, blāc (bleak, pale, pallid, wan, livid; bright, shining, glittering, flashing) and Old Norse bleikr (pale, whitish)[1], from Proto-Germanic *blaikaz (pale, shining). Cognate with Dutch bleek (pale, wan, pallid), Low German blek (pale), German bleich (pale, wan, sallow), Danish bleg (pale), Swedish blek (pale, pallid), Norwegian bleik (pale), Faroese bleikur (pale), Icelandic bleikur (pale, pink).


bleak (comparative bleaker, superlative bleakest)

  1. Without color; pale; pallid.
    • (Can we date this quote by Foxe and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      When she came out she looked as pale and as bleak as one that were laid out dead.
  2. Desolate and exposed; swept by cold winds.
    • (Can we date this quote by Wordsworth and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      Wastes too bleak to rear / The common growth of earth, the foodful ear.
    • (Can we date this quote by Longfellow and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      at daybreak, on the bleak sea beach
    A bleak and bare rock.
    They escaped across the bleak landscape.
    A bleak, crater-pocked moonscape.
    We hiked across open meadows and climbed bleak mountains.
  3. Unhappy; cheerless; miserable; emotionally desolate.
    • 2019 May 19, Alex McLevy, “The final Game Of Thrones brings a pensive but simple meditation about stories (newbies)”, in The A.V. Club[1]:
      Dany didn’t necessarily have to die, but letting her live would’ve been an assessment of humanity so bleak that even George R.R. Martin, it seems, wants to hope for something better.
    Downtown Albany felt bleak that February after the divorce.
    A bleak future is in store for you.
    The news is bleak.
    The survey paints a bleak picture.
Derived terms[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

Etymology 2[edit]

Probably from Old Norse bleikja.


bleak (plural bleaks or bleak)

English Wikipedia has an article on:
  1. A small European river fish (Alburnus alburnus), of the family Cyprinidae.


  1. ^ bleak” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2019.