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

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Other Words from doleful

dolefully \ ˈdōl-​fə-​lē How to pronounce doleful (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 With Marilyn Monroe as its doleful model, this adolescent sculptural trash is presented as a welcome draw for desert resort tourism, battered during the COVID-19 pandemic. Los Angeles Times, 21 June 2021 Piazzolla became the visionary who revolutionized the tango — that doleful mélange of broken hearts, dirty dancing and soul-crushing melancholy. Los Angeles Times, 15 Apr. 2021 As if in acknowledgement of the fact, the rhino lets out a doleful moan. Henry Nicholls, Scientific American, 30 May 2012 Did Noelline find glory in being, for a short while, the talk of Naratrany, the damsel hotly contested by two doleful knights? Andrea Lee, The New Yorker, 28 Dec. 2020 Add a deer’s head above a fireplace and a doleful-looking fish just because, and the woozy sensation fits right into the 2020 vibe. John King,, 27 Nov. 2020 Second, the doleful fact is that, from the end of the Cold War until Trump took office, the record of the national-security establishment consisted largely of one catastrophic mistake after another. Jim Talent, National Review, 30 Oct. 2020 There was a doleful old man identified simply as a Blind Mohel, and a few pages after that, a solicitously eager young Merkin Merchant. Lawrence Weschler, The Atlantic, 7 Sep. 2020 Their immediate shift to ascribing motivations to me rather than engaging with the seriousness of that criticism is a doleful sign of the Bulverist tendency. Dan Mclaughlin, National Review, 18 Aug. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of doleful

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for doleful

see dole entry 1

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Time Traveler for doleful

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

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Dictionary Entries Near doleful

dole cupboard



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Statistics for doleful

Last Updated

2 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Doleful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for doleful



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

More from Merriam-Webster on doleful

Nglish: Translation of doleful for Spanish Speakers


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