dole·​ful | \ ˈdōl-fəl How to pronounce doleful (audio) \

Definition of doleful

1 : full of grief : cheerless a doleful face
2 : expressing grief : sad a doleful melody
3 : causing grief or affliction a doleful loss

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from doleful

dolefully \ ˈdōl-​fə-​lē How to pronounce dolefully (audio) \ adverb
dolefulness noun

Examples of doleful in a Sentence

The girl had a doleful look on her face. You sounded so doleful about your future that night.
Recent Examples on the Web Judging by her frequently doleful, mildly frightening likenesses, Ms. Frey’s selection and explication of which are consistently excellent, their bond was more complicated. Maxwell Carter, WSJ, "‘Venus Betrayed’ Review: The Intimist," 3 Jan. 2020 This might seem like a doleful itinerary from our violent age: not so much waypoints on a walk meant to connect humanity as a plunge into the Phlegethon, the river of burning blood in which murderers, warmongers, and tyrants boil in Dante’s Inferno. Paul Salopek, National Geographic, "Is the world becoming more violent?," 10 Jan. 2020 This year’s batch of doleful ex-spouses gingerly opening their hearts is especially impressive, heading into double-digit territory. Dan Snierson,, "The biggest trends in 2019 Christmas TV movies," 6 Dec. 2019 And with some reason: While the Eighth unfolds with doleful sweetness, his other symphonies can be chuggingly listless. Zachary Woolfe, New York Times, "Philip Glass Is Too Busy to Care About Legacy," 7 Nov. 2019 The doleful pessimist would also point to the rise of nationalism. Akshat Rathi, Quartz, "Are we finally at a tipping point on climate action?," 26 Sep. 2019 Frampton, of course, had funny stories to tell, some of it in Wyman’s doleful voice. Ben Crandell,, "Review/Photos: Peter Frampton makes a powerful final statement in West Palm Beach," 7 Sep. 2019 The repeating beat and words provided a doleful soundtrack for the encampment, where pain came from a life marked by trauma and disregard. Los Angeles Times, "Broadway Place’s homeless residents were promised homes. Had the city forgotten them?," 15 Aug. 2019 There's more sadness to Kapadia's film than anticipated, and Maradona is on hand to comment on what was going on behind his younger self's often doleful expression. Thomas Page, CNN, "Sex, drugs and soccer: Diego Maradona film shines light on Napoli years," 12 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'doleful.' 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 doleful

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for doleful

see dole entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about doleful

Time Traveler for doleful

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for doleful

Last Updated

11 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Doleful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Aug. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for doleful


How to pronounce doleful (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of doleful

: very sad


dole·​ful | \ ˈdōl-fəl How to pronounce doleful (audio) \

Kids Definition of doleful

: very sad a doleful day

Other Words from doleful

dolefully \ -​fə-​lē \ adverb

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on doleful

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for doleful

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with doleful

Spanish Central: Translation of doleful

Nglish: Translation of doleful for Spanish Speakers

Comments on doleful

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


Test Your Vocabulary

July 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • papercraft sunset
  • Which is a synonym of mien?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

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!