mis·​ery | \ ˈmi-zə-rē , ˈmiz-rē\
plural miseries

Definition of misery

1 : a state of suffering and want that is the result of poverty or affliction War brought misery to thousands of refugees.
2 : a circumstance, thing, or place that causes suffering or discomfort the joys and miseries of life
3 : a state of great unhappiness and emotional distress My former boss made my life a misery.

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Synonyms & Antonyms for misery


agony, Gehenna, hell, horror, murder, nightmare, torment, torture


heaven, paradise

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Go it alone, and figuring out the best mascara for sensitive eyes is an exercise in misery. Rachel Nussbaum, Glamour, "The 10 Best Mascaras for People With Sensitive Eyes," 18 Oct. 2018 The student’s story turns out to be lovely—a sweet teen-age memory—and Fox’s mouth twists in misery. Emily Nussbaum, The New Yorker, "“The Tale,” a Wrenching and Wise Story About Sexual Abuse," 18 June 2018 Instead, voters seem to care most about making a real dent in the misery on our streets and sidewalks — the tent camps, open-air injection drug use and ubiquitous heaps of garbage — and ensuring more people can afford housing in the city. Heather Knight, San Francisco Chronicle, "It’s a really big deal that SF elected London Breed as mayor," 13 June 2018 Wednesday's 13-4 loss put the dagger in Miami's misery. Jordan Mcpherson, miamiherald, "After a 'slap in the face' in Chicago, the Marlins now face a tough test at home," 10 May 2018 That means ragweed and other plants start producing pollen earlier in the season, which will lead to more misery for allergy sufferers. Umair Irfan, Vox, "Winters are warming faster than summers. These US cities could lose weeks of freezing days by 2050.," 21 Dec. 2018 Marie told me after Gumucio’s death, referring to the misery that a war reporter absorbs over time. Janine Di Giovanni, Town & Country, "Hollywood Chameleon Rosamund Pike Tackles the Life Story of War Correspondent Marie Colvin," 15 Nov. 2018 Lula has shown no remorse, which adds insult to economic misery. Mary Anastasia O’grady, WSJ, "Bolsonaro Takes Brazil," 28 Oct. 2018 Adding to the misery, federal flood-protection authorities imposed a de facto building ban on the Natomas basin in 2008 after concerns arose about the adequacy of levees there. Hudson Sangree, sacbee, "Natomas bounces back in a big way after flood moratorium," 13 Jan. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of misery

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for misery

Last Updated

12 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for misery

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

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More Definitions for misery



English Language Learners Definition of misery

: extreme suffering or unhappiness
: something that causes extreme suffering or unhappiness
: a very unhappy or painful time or experience


mis·​ery | \ ˈmi-zə-rē , ˈmiz-rē\
plural miseries

Kids Definition of misery

: great suffering or unhappiness

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More from Merriam-Webster on misery

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for misery

Spanish Central: Translation of misery

Nglish: Translation of misery for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of misery for Arabic Speakers

Comments on misery

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