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

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 The departure of a popular assistant coach didn’t dismay him. Alex Vejar, The Salt Lake Tribune, 24 May 2022 Euphoria gave way to dismay when Carrington and Co. faced a San Francisco 49ers offense led by Hall of Famers in Steve Young and Jerry Rice and coordinated by future Super Bowl-winning head coach Mike Shanahan. Tom Krasovic, San Diego Union-Tribune, 8 May 2022 McCord was one of several Hollywood figures to speak out about the Russian invasion, with Ukrainian stars such as Regina Spektor, Vera Farmiga, and Maksim Chmerkovskiy expressing their anger, shock, and dismay over the violence. Lauren Huff, EW.com, 26 Feb. 2022 Hundreds of people have left comments on Higgins’s post, some expressing disgust and dismay over the school board’s decision, while others have thanked Higgins for helping to get the book in students’ hands. Washington Post, 1 Feb. 2022 Wheatley residents have gone from shock to dismay to anger that more hasn’t been done to solve the mystery of the explosion or to start working on repairs. New York Times, 11 Jan. 2022 Our allies have been apoplectic and haven't been shy about sharing their anger and dismay with journalists, many of whom are equally furious about colleagues in Afghanistan facing a dismal future. Damon Linker, The Week, 26 Aug. 2021 So, there was grief and—and dismay from a lotta people. CBS News, 30 Oct. 2021 The public safety spending may dismay those hoping to see a smaller police budget. Darcy Costello, The Courier-Journal, 27 Oct. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The new season picks up following the aftermath of season 2 as Devi and Paxton stroll the halls of Sherman Oaks High hand-in-hand, much to the dismay and envy of their classmates. Alexis Jones, PEOPLE.com, 27 July 2022 To the dismay of Angelenos and tourists alike, Tail o’ the Pup closed and the stand was moved by crane into a storage facility. Nicole Kagan, Los Angeles Times, 20 July 2022 To the climate education advocates' dismay, when the Texas Education Agency posted the writing groups' results on its Web site in July 2020, the draft standards didn't contain a single reference to modern-day climate change. Katie Worth, Scientific American, 20 June 2022 And to make matters worse, newcomer Pete Diamond has orchestrated a music festival to take place in Ebbing, much to the locals' dismay. Mary Cadden, USA TODAY, 15 June 2022 Netflix decided to end the teen series after two seasons, to the dismay of fans and critics alike. Anne Marie Lee, CBS News, 4 May 2022 To the ghosts’ profound dismay, Samantha and Jay plan to refurbish the place as a bed-and-breakfast inn, constantly filled with (ugh) people. Washington Post, 3 Jan. 2022 Clare manages to seduce both Irene’s sons and eventually even perhaps Brian, to Irene’s growing dismay which slowly turning into jealousy. Sheena Scott, Forbes, 10 Nov. 2021 When an opportunity to join the sound team at game studio Capcom popped up, Shimomura went for it, much to her parents’ dismay. Mat Ombler, Wired, 4 Nov. 2021 See More

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.

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

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

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Last Updated

12 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Dismay.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dismay. Accessed 9 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for dismay


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.

More from Merriam-Webster on dismay

Nglish: Translation of dismay for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dismay for Arabic Speakers


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