bleaker; bleakest
: exposed and barren and often windswept
a bleak landscape
bleak soils
: cold, raw
a bleak November evening
: lacking in warmth, life, or kindliness : grim
a bleak prison documentary
: not hopeful or encouraging : depressing
a bleak prognosis
a bleak outlook
the future looks bleak
: severely simple or austere
a bleak hotel room
bleakly adverb
bleakness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of bleak in a Sentence

a bleak outlook for the team for the rest of the season it was a dark and bleak wintry day
Recent Examples on the Web The first few episodes in particular were almost oppressively bleak, and there were later points where the humor and the pathos seemed to awkwardly co-exist. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 15 Feb. 2024 Despite the darkness, the album isn’t necessarily bleak. Tess Growney, SPIN, 15 Feb. 2024 The current state of the world right now is pretty bleak in a lot of ways. Liz Appel, Vogue, 13 Feb. 2024 And Drone-Defenses Is The Ultimate T-62 Samsung Documents Confirm Innovative Galaxy Z Fold 6 Upgrade Investor Pressure Even if a company's financial picture isn’t completely bleak, investors may push for layoffs. Erin Imhof, Forbes, 12 Feb. 2024 And while Brian Burns is likely to receive the franchise tag, the group’s outlook is still somewhat bleak. Mike Kaye, Charlotte Observer, 12 Feb. 2024 Ever since the shop reopened after having closed during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, the mood among the largely Latino clientele has been bleak. Jennifer Medina, New York Times, 11 Feb. 2024 And there’s no doubt what a Super Bowl win would mean to the people of Kansas City, who have rallied around the Chiefs year after year — even when things were plenty bleak. Scott Chasen, Kansas City Star, 11 Feb. 2024 Yet, the co-acquisition of The Baltimore Sun by Armstrong Williams, a Black American entrepreneur, is a source of encouragement and optimism in a world that is otherwise bleak. Benjamin Crump, Baltimore Sun, 6 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'bleak.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English bleke pale; probably akin to Old English blāc

First Known Use

1574, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of bleak was in 1574

Dictionary Entries Near bleak

Cite this Entry

“Bleak.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


: open to wind or weather
a bleak coast
: cold entry 1 sense 1, raw
a bleak November evening
: dreary, cheerless
the future looks bleak
: very plain
bleakly adverb
bleakness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on bleak

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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