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 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 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, "The Uncanny Tale of Shimmel Zohar," 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, "Bulverism at The Bulwark," 18 Aug. 2020 Sheil, who is essentially the Meryl Streep of the micro-indie movie world, is a fascinating actor, with doleful blue eyes and a sense of quiet interiority that creates for a magnetically laconic screen presence. Katie Walsh,, "‘She Dies Tomorrow’ review: A bold, evocative story of a plague that is an idea that brings a final knowledge," 5 Aug. 2020 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

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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for doleful

Last Updated

11 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Doleful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Oct. 2020.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on doleful

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for doleful

Nglish: Translation of doleful for Spanish Speakers

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