mis·​ery ˈmi-zə-rē How to pronounce misery (audio)
plural miseries
: a state of suffering and want that is the result of poverty or affliction
War brought misery to thousands of refugees.
: a circumstance, thing, or place that causes suffering or discomfort
the joys and miseries of life
: a state of great unhappiness and emotional distress
My former boss made my life a misery.
Choose the Right Synonym for misery

distress, suffering, misery, agony mean the state of being in great trouble.

distress implies an external and usually temporary cause of great physical or mental strain and stress.

the hurricane put everyone in great distress

suffering implies conscious endurance of pain or distress.

the suffering of famine victims

misery stresses the unhappiness attending especially sickness, poverty, or loss.

the homeless live with misery every day

agony suggests pain too intense to be borne.

in agony over the death of their child

Example Sentences

The war brought misery to thousands of refugees. They were living in overcrowded slums in conditions of great misery. a source of human misery the joy and misery of life The last years of her life were a misery. Stop being such a misery. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Going somewhere new and focusing on something beyond my own misery was the best remedy. Sarah Greaves-gabbadon, Condé Nast Traveler, 10 Jan. 2023 Read full article Even with all that misery, the Bears were headed for the No. 2 selection before Smith coached Houston to a wild 32-31 victory at Indianapolis. BostonGlobe.com, 9 Jan. 2023 And the Cardinals preserved a top five draft status, which could come in handy in trying to rebound from a season memorable only for its misery. Kent Somers, The Arizona Republic, 1 Jan. 2023 His misery emerges in the solution to the crime, as each investigator learns who the other really is. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 22 Dec. 2022 On a fair Tuam day in October 2016, a small excavator’s claw took its first swipe, peeling away the topsoil from a corner of a seven-acre site seeded with misery. Dan Barry, New York Times, 14 Dec. 2022 All abuse does is burden you down with misery and our higher power didn't create us to suffer. Ashley Luthern, Journal Sentinel, 18 Oct. 2022 Joe Pugliese halioua joined deming at a WeWork in the Tenderloin, a San Francisco neighborhood abutting City Hall and the headquarters of Twitter that is also rife with human misery and crime. Tom Simonite, WIRED, 13 Oct. 2022 In an echo of last summer’s mini-trend of tropical getaways turned sour, The Resort unfolds over a vacation that only looks pretty on the surface, while simmering with misery underneath. Angie Han, The Hollywood Reporter, 27 July 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'misery.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of misery was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near misery

Cite this Entry

“Misery.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/misery. Accessed 4 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


mis·​ery ˈmiz-(ə-)rē How to pronounce misery (audio)
plural miseries
: a state of great suffering and want due to poverty or misfortune
: a source of misery
: a state of unhappiness

More from Merriam-Webster on misery

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