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From Anglo-Norman dismal, from Old French (li) dis mals ("(the) bad days"), from Medieval Latin diēs (day) mālī (bad).


  • IPA(key): /ˈdɪzməl/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɪzməl


dismal (comparative more dismal, superlative most dismal)

  1. Disastrous, calamitous
  2. Disappointingly inadequate.
    He received a dismal compensation.
    • 2012 April 22, Sam Sheringham, “Liverpool 0-1 West Brom”, in BBC Sport:
      Liverpool's efforts thereafter had an air of desperation as their dismal 2012 league form continued.
  3. Causing despair; gloomy and bleak.
    The storm made for a dismal weekend
  4. Depressing, dreary, cheerless.
    She was lost in dismal thoughts of despair
    • 1913, Joseph C. Lincoln, chapter 12, in Mr. Pratt's Patients:
      So, after a spell, he decided to make the best of it and shoved us into the front parlor. 'Twas a dismal sort of place, with hair wreaths, and wax fruit, and tin lambrekins, and land knows what all. It looked like a tomb and smelt pretty nigh as musty and dead-and-gone.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Nouns to which "dismal" is often applied: failure, performance, state, record, place, result, scene, season, year, economy, future, fate, weather, news, condition, history.


Derived terms[edit]