Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



From Middle English dolour (physical pain, agony, suffering; painful disease; anguish, grief, misery, sorrow; grieving for sins, contrition; hardship, misery, trouble; cause of grief or suffering, affliction) [and other forms],[1] from Anglo-Norman dolour, Old French dolour, dolor, dulur (pain) (modern French douleur (pain; distress)), from Latin dolor (ache, hurt, pain; anguish, grief, sorrow; anger, indignation, resentment), from doleō (to hurt, suffer physical pain; to deplore, grieve, lament) (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *delh₁- (to divide, split)) + -or (suffix forming third-declension masculine abstract nouns).[2] The English word is a doublet of dol.



dolour (countable and uncountable, plural dolours) (British spelling)

  1. (chiefly uncountable, literary) Anguish, grief, misery, or sorrow.
    Synonyms: infelicity, joylessness, sadness, unhappiness, unjoy
    Antonyms: elation, felicity, happiness, joy
  2. (countable, economics, ethics) In economics and utilitarianism: a unit of pain used to theoretically weigh people's outcomes.
    Synonym: dol
    Antonyms: hedon, util, utile, utilon
    • 1986, Rosemarie Tong, Ethics in Policy Analysis (Occupational Ethics Series), Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, →ISBN, page 16:
      Supposedly, utilitarians are able to add and subtract hedons (units of pleasure) and dolors (units of pain) without any signs of cognitive or affective distress []

Alternative forms[edit]

  • dolor (American spelling)

Related terms[edit]



  1. ^ dōlǒur, n.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  2. ^ Compare “dolour | dolor, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, March 2021; “dolour, n.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–present.

Further reading[edit]

Old French[edit]


dolour f (oblique plural dolours, nominative singular dolour, nominative plural dolours)

  1. Late Anglo-Norman spelling of dulur
    qi purroit penser ou ymaginer la dolour et les peynes qe vous, ma douz Dame, endurastes.
    Who could think of or imagine the pain and the suffering that you, my dear lady, have endured.