adjective \ ˈblēk \
Updated on: 24 Feb 2018

Definition of bleak

1 : exposed and barren and often windswept
  • a bleak landscape
  • bleak soils
2 : cold, raw
  • a bleak November evening
3 a : lacking in warmth, life, or kindliness : grim
  • a bleak prison documentary
b : not hopeful or encouraging : depressing
  • a bleak prognosis
  • a bleak outlook
  • the future looks bleak
c : severely simple or austere
  • a bleak hotel room





Examples of bleak in a Sentence

  1. a bleak outlook for the team for the rest of the season

  2. it was a dark and bleak wintry day

Recent Examples of bleak from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bleak.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of bleak

Middle English bleke pale; probably akin to Old English blāc

Synonym Discussion of bleak

dismal, dreary, bleak, gloomy, cheerless, desolate mean devoid of cheer or comfort. dismal indicates extreme and utterly depressing gloominess.
    • dismal weather
dreary, often interchangeable with dismal, emphasizes discouragement resulting from sustained dullness or futility.
    • a dreary job
bleak suggests chill, dull, and barren characteristics that utterly dishearten.
    • the bleak years of the depression
gloomy often suggests lack of hope or promise.
    • gloomy war news
cheerless stresses absence of anything cheering.
    • a drab and cheerless office
desolate adds an element of utter remoteness or lack of human contact to any already disheartening aspect.
    • a desolate outpost

BLEAK Defined for English Language Learners



Definition of bleak for English Language Learners

  • : not warm, friendly, cheerful, etc.

  • : not hopeful or encouraging

BLEAK Defined for Kids


adjective \ ˈblēk \

Definition of bleak for Students

bleaker; bleakest
1 : open to wind or weather
  • a bleak coast
2 : being cold and raw or cheerless
  • a bleak wind
  • a bleak landscape
3 : not hopeful or encouraging
  • The future looks bleak.


  • stared bleakly



Seen and Heard

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an inn where caravans rest at night

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