dis·​may | \ dis-ˈmā How to pronounce dismay (audio) , diz- \
dismayed; dismaying

Definition of dismay

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to cause to lose courage or resolution (as because of alarm or fear) must not let ourselves be dismayed by the task before us
2 : upset, perturb were dismayed by the condition of the building



Definition of dismay (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : sudden loss of courage or resolution from alarm or fear watched with dismay as flames engulfed their home
2a : sudden disappointment announced her retirement, much to the dismay of her fans
b : perturbation sense 1 expressed dismay at his strange behavior

Keep scrolling for more

Choose the Right Synonym for dismay


dismay, appall, horrify, daunt mean to unnerve or deter by arousing fear, apprehension, or aversion. dismay implies that one is disconcerted and at a loss as to how to deal with something. dismayed at the size of the job appall implies that one is faced with that which perturbs, confounds, or shocks. I am appalled by your behavior horrify stresses a reaction of horror or revulsion. was horrified by such wanton cruelty daunt suggests a cowing, disheartening, or frightening in a venture requiring courage. a cliff that would daunt the most intrepid climber

Examples of dismay in a Sentence

Verb Her choice of career dismays her parents. the imposing climb up the mountain dismayed us even before we got started Noun His comments were met with cries of dismay. They watched in dismay as the house burned. Much to the dismay of her fans, she announced her retirement immediately after the book's release. To my dismay, I did not get chosen for the job. We listened with dismay to the news of the accident.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Trump's fulfillment of a campaign promise to exit the Iran nuclear deal has had wide ripple effects, leading Tehran to bolster its nuclear capabilities and dismaying European capitals who worked to establish the original agreement. Author: Jonathan Lemire And Deb Riechmann, Anchorage Daily News, "At UN, Trump focuses on religious freedom, not climate," 24 Sep. 2019 Local listeners were dismayed and radio journalists and experts troubled. Harley Brown, Billboard, "Consolidation Is Harming Diversity and Localism in Terrestrial Radio, According to New Report," 30 Apr. 2019 But Newby said she was dismayed that someone in Reno would harm pigeons here. Anjeanette Damon, USA TODAY, "‘Not really that funny’: Someone glued a tiny sombrero on a pigeon in Reno," 17 Jan. 2020 You might be dismayed that the e-tron’s EPA-estimate range barely crests 200 miles. Washington Post, "Edmunds: Five noteworthy electric vehicles to buy in 2020," 15 Jan. 2020 Kentucky restaurant owners were dismayed last week to find restaurants weren't included in the commonwealth's Phase 1 opening plans. Louisville Courier Journal, "Beshear announces reopening date for Kentucky restaurants. Not all owners are happy," 7 May 2020 But the next year, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), which launched the egg-freezing program, suspended it, dismaying infertility experts. Meredith Wadman, Science | AAAS, "How women at NIH’s research hospital lost chances at childbearing," 2 Apr. 2020 For many Russians, however, who were dismayed during Yeltsin’s tenure by their country’s loss of territory, population, status, and power, and by their president’s sometimes-clownish behavior, Vladimir Putin has seemed a savior. Aryeh Neier, The New Republic, "The Imitation Games That Authoritarians Play," 24 Mar. 2020 Its contents were dismaying; the singer's social media housed a litany of racial slurs and memes, posted in her early teens. Ineye Komonibo, refinery29.com, "Normani Says Camilla Cabello’s Apology Came Years Too Late," 2 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Restaurants, bars and gyms in Rio were allowed to reopen yesterday, much to the dismay of health experts. Ivana Kottasová, CNN, "What you need to know about coronavirus on Friday, July 3," 3 July 2020 The house was torn down in 2013, to the dismay of some neighbors and preservationists, and is at the center of a court battle that is still being fought. Jeanne Houck, The Enquirer, "Greenacres Foundation selling old Gamble house property in Westwood, 'not ruling anything out'," 2 July 2020 Many Republicans and President Trump have expressed dismay about the destruction of the monuments, with Trump signing a recent executive order vowing to end the actions. Mica Soellner, Washington Examiner, "Kevin McCarthy to introduce bill threatening to withhold funding from states and cities not protecting statues," 2 July 2020 Bars and similar establishments that receive more than 51 percent of their gross business from the sale of alcoholic beverages were also forced to close, to the dismay of many business owners. Fox News, "US coronavirus cases top 2.5 million: Here are the states seeing new spikes," 28 June 2020 Scientists also continue to express dismay at the apparent political interference. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "White House ordered NIH to cancel coronavirus research funding, Fauci says," 24 June 2020 Despite being stuck in regulatory limbo, the company had forged ahead, working during the coronavirus pandemic, much to the dismay of landowners who live in the pipeline’s path. Popular Science, "Landowners say pipelines are being constructed in their backyards with little regard for COVID-19," 18 June 2020 Democrats continued to express dismay towards Bolton for refusing to testify during the House impeachment proceedings but publishing a book that appears to address much of what he would have been asked about by Congress. Savannah Behrmann, USA TODAY, "'Author, but he’s no patriot': Lawmakers react to Bolton's new book on Trump," 18 June 2020 The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, which represents about 160,000 actors, announcers, broadcast journalists and others, expressed dismay over the ruling. Maura Dolan, Los Angeles Times, "Law barring disclosure of actors’ ages violates 1st Amendment, appeals court rules," 19 June 2020

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

See More

First Known Use of dismay


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for dismay

Verb and Noun

Middle English, from Anglo-French desmaier, from des- dis- + -maier, from Vulgar Latin *-magare, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German magan to be able — more at may entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about dismay

Time Traveler for dismay

Time Traveler

The first known use of dismay was in the 13th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for dismay

Last Updated

9 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Dismay.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dismay. Accessed 15 Jul. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for dismay


How to pronounce dismay (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of dismay

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to cause (someone) to feel very worried, disappointed, or upset



English Language Learners Definition of dismay (Entry 2 of 2)

: a strong feeling of being worried, disappointed, or upset


dis·​may | \ dis-ˈmā How to pronounce dismay (audio) \
dismayed; dismaying

Kids Definition of dismay

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to feel worry, disappointment, fear, or shock … I was dismayed to see what a mess my guests had made of my tree house.— Jean Craighead George, My Side of the Mountain



Kids Definition of dismay (Entry 2 of 2)

: a feeling of fear, disappointment, shock, or worry We listened with dismay to the bad news.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on dismay

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dismay

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with dismay

Spanish Central: Translation of dismay

Nglish: Translation of dismay for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dismay for Arabic Speakers

Comments on dismay

What made you want to look up dismay? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!