drea·​ry ˈdrir-ē How to pronounce dreary (audio)
drearier; dreariest
: feeling, displaying, or reflecting listlessness or discouragement
cheer a dreary mindGeorge Berkeley
: having nothing likely to provide cheer, comfort, or interest : gloomy, dismal
a cold, dreary morning
drearily adverb
dreariness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for dreary

dismal, dreary, bleak, gloomy, cheerless, desolate mean devoid of cheer or comfort.

dismal indicates extreme and utterly depressing gloominess.

dismal weather

dreary, often interchangeable with dismal, emphasizes discouragement resulting from sustained dullness or futility.

a dreary job

bleak suggests chill, dull, and barren characteristics that utterly dishearten.

the bleak years of the depression

gloomy often suggests lack of hope or promise.

gloomy war news

cheerless stresses absence of anything cheering.

a drab and cheerless office

desolate adds an element of utter remoteness or lack of human contact to any already disheartening aspect.

a desolate outpost

Examples of dreary in a Sentence

It was a gray, dreary morning. The family struggled through dreary economic times.
Recent Examples on the Web Don’t let dreary weather dull your style – these Rain Boots are here to save the day. Samantha Booth, Rolling Stone, 21 Nov. 2023 If the weather is dreary outside or your teen just needs a break from screens, then a puzzle can provide a welcome distraction that will keep their brains sharp. Casey Clark, Parents, 17 Nov. 2023 That continues a dreary run for the electronics maker, which has reported major losses in recent months as global economic uncertainty weighs on consumers around the world, leading many people to hold on to their cell phones and laptops longer. Michelle Toh, CNN, 11 Oct. 2023 Indoors, black paint defies its dark and dreary reputation. Jessica Bennett, Better Homes & Gardens, 11 Nov. 2023 But there will be no such luck again this weekend, as two systems work together to bring soggy and dreary conditions to the Northeast and parts of the mid-Atlantic. Mary Gilbert, CNN, 20 Oct. 2023 The National Hurricane Center is monitoring the subtropical system, which will bring plentiful rainfall, rough surf, strong gusty winds and coastal flooding, affecting the majority of major East Coast cities and bringing a dreary, dank weekend. Matthew Cappucci, Washington Post, 21 Sep. 2023 But each of Tackett Curtis’ mistakes, and every subsequent correction, led him to his best game yet: a career-high eight tackles as one of the few bright spots of a dreary loss to Notre Dame. Thuc Nhi Nguyen, Los Angeles Times, 20 Oct. 2023 But the rest of the album ambles through a signature haze of dreary, mid-tempo beats and meditative piano-lounge instrumentation perfected by Drake’s go-to producer and chief partner, Noah (Forty) Shebib. Carrie Battan, The New Yorker, 13 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'dreary.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English drery, from Old English drēorig sad, bloody, from drēor gore; akin to Old High German trūrēn to be sad, Goth driusan to fall

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of dreary was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near dreary

Cite this Entry

“Dreary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dreary. Accessed 6 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


drea·​ry ˈdri(ə)r-ē How to pronounce dreary (audio)
; dreariest
: having nothing that provides cheer, comfort, or interest
drearily adverb
dreariness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on dreary

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