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


Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for wretched in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)

Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English, as if from wretch +‎ -ed.



wretched (comparative wretcheder or more wretched, superlative wretchedest or most wretched)

  1. Very miserable; sunk in, or accompanied by, deep affliction or distress, as from want, anxiety, or grief; calamitous; woeful; very afflicting.
    • 1918, Maksim Gorky, chapter 4, in Creatures That Once Were Men, and other stories[1]:
      As for me, I felt wretched and helpless, in the darkness, surrounded with angry waves, whose noise deafened me.
  2. Worthless; paltry; very poor or mean; miserable.
    • 1864, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, chapter 1, in Notes from Underground[2]:
      My room is a wretched, horrid one in the outskirts of the town.
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 17, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
      This time was most dreadful for Lilian. Thrown on her own resources and almost penniless, she maintained herself and paid the rent of a wretched room near the hospital by working as a charwoman, sempstress, anything.
    • 1922, James Joyce, Ulysses, Episode 16
      All those wretched quarrels, in his humble opinion, stirring up bad blood, from some bump of combativeness or gland of some kind, erroneously supposed to be about a punctilio of honour and a flag, [] .
    • 2011 April 11, Phil McNulty, “Liverpool 3-0 Man City”, in BBC Sport:
      Mario Balotelli replaced Tevez but his contribution was so negligible that he suffered the indignity of being substituted himself as time ran out, a development that encapsulated a wretched 90 minutes for City and boss Roberto Mancini.
    Jan Hollar authored many wretched poems.   Jan Hollar lived in a wretched cabin.
  3. (obsolete) Hatefully contemptible; despicable; wicked.
Usage notes[edit]
  • Nouns to which "wretched" is often applied: woman, state, life, condition, creature, man, excess, person, place, world, being, situation, weather, slave, animal, city, village, health, house, town.
  • To what wretched state reserved! Milton
  • Wretched ungratefulness. Sir Philip Sidney
  • Wrechet World King Lear
Derived terms[edit]
Related terms[edit]
Further reading[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]




  1. Misspelling of retched.