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

An underdog team and an underdog community' » As Chicago knows, sports fan misery is a selfish disease that drags you down. John Kass, chicagotribune.com, "Joy of Chicago's Croatians cresting as World Cup final with France approaches," 13 July 2018 The sun is shining and the birds are chirping, which means that the unnecessary heat that permeates overcrowded subway cars and packed buses is about to make your daily commute into a three-month stretch of sweaty misery. Emily Abbate, GQ, "Everything You Need to Know Before Buying a Bike for Fitness," 7 June 2018 The anticipation of something-that-was-not-misery came. Gordon Edgar, Smithsonian, "A Brief History of America’s Appetite for Macaroni and Cheese," 30 May 2018 The Massachusetts correctional system isn’t alone in needlessly inflicting the misery of opioid withdrawal on prisoners and putting them at risk of relapsing on heroin — the commonwealth’s actions reflect standard practice around the country. Brian Barnett, STAT, "Jails and prisons: the unmanned front in the battle against the opioid epidemic," 2 July 2018 In book after book, the authors include pages-long polemics about the nationalization of the police system, Stockholm’s overdevelopment and the miseries of urban life, and the many demographics that had fallen through society’s cracks. Alice Bolin, Longreads, "The Daughter as Detective," 26 June 2018 The nearest escape from the misery of damp cobwebs and the flesh of rotting salmon was a 400-yard crawl away. Author: Christine Cunningham, Anchorage Daily News, "How the Cow Face Pose can make you a better duck hunter," 19 June 2018 The shortages are adding to the misery of a Venezuelan economic collapse on the scale of the Great Depression of the 1930s and as production in the oil industry — the largest consumer of power — has fallen to the lowest levels in decades. Washington Post, "Mounting economic chaos leaves many Venezuelans in the dark," 4 May 2018 Greece has often been the first port of call in Europe for migrants fleeing war and economic misery in Afghanistan, Syria, countries in Africa and elsewhere. Niki Kitsantonis, New York Times, "75-Year-Old Mayor Is Attacked in Greece, and Nationalists Rejoice," 21 May 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

19 Nov 2018

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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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by force of circumstances

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