dismal


dismal
dismal, dreary, cheerless, dispiriting, bleak, desolate are comparable when they mean devoid of all that makes for cheer or comfort. Dismal and dreary are often interchangeable.
Dismal may indicate extreme gloominess or somberness utterly depressing and dejecting
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dismal acres of weed-filled cellars and gaping foundations— Felix Morley

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rain dripped . . . with a dismal insistence— Costain

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the most dismal prophets of calamity— Krutch

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Dreary may differ in indicating what discourages or enervates through sustained gloom, dullness, tiresomeness, or futility, and wants any cheering or enlivening characteristic
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the most dreary solitary desert waste I had ever beheld— Bartram

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it was a hard dreary winter, and the old minister's heart was often heavy— Deland

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had the strength been there, the equipment was lacking. Harding's dreary appreciation of this was part of his tragedy— S. H. Adams

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Cheerless stresses absence of anything cheering and is less explicit than but as forceful as the others in suggesting a pervasive disheartening joy- lessness or hopelessness
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he would like to have done with life and its vanity altogether ... so cheerless and dreary the prospect seemed to him— Thackeray

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Dispiriting refers to anything that disheartens or takes away morale or resolution of spirit
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it was such dispiriting effort. To throw one's whole strength and weight on the oars, and to feel the boat checked in its forward lunge— London

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Bleak is likely to suggest chill, dull, barren characteristics that dishearten and militate against any notions of cheer, shelter, warmth, comfort, brightness, or ease
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the bleak upland, still famous as a sheepwalk, though a scant herbage scarce veils the whinstone rock— J. R. Green

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the sawmill workers of the bleak mountain shack towns— Amer. Guide Series: Calif

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the bleak years of the depression— J. D. Hicks

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Desolate applies to what disheartens by being utterly barren, lifeless, uninhabitable or abandoned, and remote from anything cheering, comforting, or pleasant
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a semibarren, rather desolate region, whose long dry seasons stunted its vegetation— Marvel

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some desolate polar region of the mind, where woman, even as an ideal, could not hope to survive— Glasgowy

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Analogous words: murky, gloomy, *dark: forlorn, hopeless (see DESPONDENT): barren, *bare
Contrasted words: gay, *lively, animated: cheerful, joyous (see GLAD)

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Dismal — Dis mal, a. [Formerly a noun; e. g., I trow it was in the dismalle. Chaucer. Of uncertain origin; but perh. (as suggested by Skeat) from OF. disme, F. d[^i]me, tithe, the phrase dismal day properly meaning, the day when tithes must be paid. See… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • dismal — UK US /ˈdɪzməl/ adjective ► very bad: »In January, after a dismal holiday sales season, the retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. dismal picture/news/outlook »Another damper on investment is the dismal picture for corporate profits …   Financial and business terms

  • dismal — c.1400, from Anglo Fr. dismal (mid 13c.), from O.Fr. (li) dis mals (the) bad days, from M.L. dies mali evil or unlucky days (also called dies Ægyptiaci), from L. dies days (see DIURNAL (Cf. diurnal)) + mali, pl. of malus bad (see MAL …   Etymology dictionary

  • dismal — I adjective black, bleak, cheerless, cloudy, comfortless, dark, deplorable, depressing, despairing, despondent, dim, dingy, dire, disagreeable, disconsolate, dreary, dull, dusky, flat, foggy, gloomy, gray, joyless, lamentable, lifeless, lowering …   Law dictionary

  • dismal — [adj] bleak, dreary, gloomy afflictive, black, boring, cheerless, cloudy, dark, depressed, depressing, desolate, despondent, dim, dingy, disagreeable, discouraging, disheartening, dispiriting, doleful, dolorous, dull, forlorn, frowning, funereal …   New thesaurus

  • dismal — ► ADJECTIVE 1) causing or showing gloom or depression. 2) informal pitifully or disgracefully bad. DERIVATIVES dismally adverb. ORIGIN from obsolete dismals, the two days in each month which in medieval times were believed to be unlucky, from Old …   English terms dictionary

  • dismal — [diz′məl] adj. [ME, orig. n., evil days (of the medieval calendar) < OFr dis mal < ML dies mali, evil days: see DEITY & MAL ] 1. causing gloom or misery; depressing 2. dark and gloomy; bleak; dreary 3. depressed; miserable dismally adv …   English World dictionary

  • dismal — [[t]dɪ̱zm(ə)l[/t]] 1) ADJ GRADED Something that is dismal is bad in a sad or depressing way. ...Israel s dismal record in the Olympics... My prospects of returning to a suitable job are dismal... It was a dismal failure. Syn: terrible Derived… …   English dictionary

  • dismal — adjective Etymology: Middle English, from dismal, noun, days marked as unlucky in medieval calendars, from Anglo French, from Medieval Latin dies mali, literally, evil days Date: 15th century 1. obsolete disastrous, dreadful 2 …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • dismal — adjective 1 a dismal place, situation, thought etc has nothing pleasant in it and makes it difficult for you to feel happy and hopeful: The future looks pretty dismal right now. | a dismal, grey November afternoon 2 bad and unsuccessful: Your… …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English


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