mis·​ery | \ ˈmi-zə-rē How to pronounce misery (audio) , 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

This 4th of July holiday will be a long stretch of misery for noise-phobic dogs. Cathy M. Rosenthal, ExpressNews.com, "July 4th: Fun for humans, hell for dogs," 28 June 2019 Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in August 2005, devastating an area seven times the size of Manhattan, flooding 80 percent of the city, ruining buildings, forcing a million people to flee, and stranding millions more in misery. Garry Wills, The New York Review of Books, "The City That Wouldn’t Die," 4 Apr. 2019 This was a day of misery for Chelsea — the west London club’s heaviest loss in 28 years — but one for both City and Dean to flaunt their flamboyance. Rob Harris, The Seattle Times, "Aguero, City humiliate Chelsea — and referee joins in japes," 10 Feb. 2019 Egypt also rarely opens its border, while a rift between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah has compounded misery for Gaza residents over the past year, with salaries to the territory cut. Loveday Morris, Washington Post, "Burning tires, tear gas and live fire: Gaza clashes turn deadly," 6 Apr. 2018 However, from then on, the away side put in a ruthless display after goals from Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez, Kalechi Iheanacho and Vincente Iborra ensured more misery for under-pressure Pardew. SI.com, "Alan Pardew Criticises West Brom Players for Lack of Fight Shown in 1-4 Defeat Against Leicester," 11 Mar. 2018 Their descendants should not profit from their ancestors’ misery. Letters To The Editor, The Mercury News, "Letter: Descendants shouldn’t profit from their ancestors’ misery," 25 June 2019 The majority of deaths and miseries were endured by indigenous Peruvians. Rachel Nolan, Harper's magazine, "A Jagged Scrap of History," 24 June 2019 No, the guy who has cornered the market on exquisite misery is Jaques, the aggressively melancholy nobleman who lords over his own private Kingdom of Emo. James Hebert, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: ‘As You Like It’ zips along with elegance and wit in Old Globe’s Shakespeare Festival opener," 23 June 2019

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

16 Jul 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 How to pronounce misery (audio) , 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

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