misery

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English miserie, from Old French miserie (modern: misère), from Latin miseria, from miser. Doublet of misère.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

misery (countable and uncountable, plural miseries)

  1. Great unhappiness; extreme pain of body or mind; wretchedness; distress; woe.
    Ever since his wife left him you can see the misery on his face.
    • 1578–1579, Edmund Spenser, “Prosopopoia. Or Mother Hubberds Tale. [...] Dedicated to the Right Honorable the Ladie Compton and Mountegle”, in Complaints. Containing Sundrie Small Poemes of the Worlds Vanitie. Whereof the Next Page Maketh Mention[1], London: Imprinted for VVilliam Ponsonbie, dwelling in Paules Churchyard at the signe of the Bishops head, published 1591, OCLC 84758486:
      For miſerie doth braueſt mindes abate, / And make them ſeeke for that they wont to ſcorne, / Of fortune and of hope at once forlorne.
    • 2008, Charlotte Bingham, The Land of Summer[2]:
      It was not just the confusion that unhappiness brings, it was not just the loneliness, it was the despair that accompanies all those emotions that turns unhappiness into utter misery.
    • 2022 January 12, Nigel Harris, “Comment: Unhappy start to 2022”, in RAIL, number 948, page 3:
      Then, in January, a creeping tsunami of train cancellations, triggered by major staff absences as a result of the aggressive transmissibility of Omicron, heaped further misery on rail users.
  2. (US and UK, dialects) A bodily ache or pain.
    • 1868, John Vestal Hadley, Seven Months a Prisoner, page 15:
      [...] and I had a misery in my left breast and shoulder. I was hurt, but knew not how or how much.
  3. Cause of misery; calamity; misfortune.
  4. (Extreme) poverty.
    • 1593, anonymous, The Life and Death of Iacke Straw [], Act I:
      The Widdow that hath but a pan of braſſe, []
      Muſt pay her Landlord many a groat,
      Or twil be puld out of her throat: []
      The rich haue all, the poore liue in miſerie: []
  5. (archaic) greed; avarice.

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