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 Piazzolla became the visionary who revolutionized the tango — that doleful mélange of broken hearts, dirty dancing and soul-crushing melancholy. Los Angeles Times, "They called him tango’s assassin. But Astor Piazzolla’s musical reboot made him a legend," 15 Apr. 2021 As if in acknowledgement of the fact, the rhino lets out a doleful moan. Henry Nicholls, Scientific American, "Rhinoceros Undergoes Assisted Reproduction to Rescue Species from Extinction," 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, "The Rivals," 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,, "San Francisco is having a parklet moment. Here are 11 cool ones to check out right now," 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, "In Defense of Trump’s National-Security Record," 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, "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

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

21 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Doleful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 May. 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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for doleful

Nglish: Translation of doleful for Spanish Speakers

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