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

Examples of misery in a Sentence

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.
Recent Examples on the Web The misery of this family is part of the general misery of a nation in pain. Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times, 17 May 2024 After two long years, the war in Ukraine keeps finding new zones of misery. Jeffrey Gettleman Emile Ducke, New York Times, 11 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for misery 

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

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 25 May. 2024.

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

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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