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 The bright color is also like a fresh ray of sunshine after dreary winter dressing. Alyssa Grabinski, Peoplemag, 15 May 2024 This led to a sector that was highly fragmented and dominated by ‘mom-and-pop’ practices that typically used antiquated software and lacked marketing expertise, while their physical offices were often dreary and out-of-date. Luisa Beltran, Fortune, 13 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for dreary 

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 21 May. 2024.

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

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!