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.

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for misery


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


heaven, paradise

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Either Venezuelans reclaim their freedom, or instability and misery will continue to radiate from Caracas through the Americas. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "High Stakes in Caracas," 30 Apr. 2019 The misery continued for Brazil, however, as the Seleção were humiliated again in the third-place game, a 3-0 loss to the Netherlands. Jim Reineking, USA TODAY, "Craziest FIFA World Cup moments: Zinedine Zidane's headbutt, biggest upset, 'Hand of God'," 6 June 2018 Like most of his fellow head coaches, Vogel said the misery of losing games outweighs the satisfaction of winning games. Josh Robbins, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Frank Vogel tries to maintain work-life balance within his ‘very stressful’ profession," 21 Mar. 2018 Still, some critics have wondered whether the series goes too far—whether its uncanny, occasionally prophetic mirror image of our own world provides enough meaning to justify sitting through all that misery and violence. Laura Bradley, HWD, "The Handmaid’s Tale Writer Breaks Down the Series’s Most Brutal Episode Yet," 20 June 2018 Ironically, positive psychology was born in misery and war — long before the current version, with its emphasis on scientific study of positive human functioning and resilience, emerged with self-consciousness and institutional heft in the 1990s. Daniel Horowitz, BostonGlobe.com, "In the worst human traumas, psychologists found the roots of happiness," 6 May 2018 Getty Images Shout out to Sarah Jessica Parker, who just singlehandedly rescued us all from the misery of Blue Monday with some very happy news. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Sarah Jessica Parker is Bringing Back Carrie Bradshaw for a Mystery Cause With a "Great Brand"," 21 Jan. 2019 There is anecdotal information about people using marijuana to wean themselves from opioids, ease the misery of withdrawal, or limit their opioid use. Rita Giordano, Philly.com, "Could marijuana help treat opioid addiction? Pennsylvania may soon find out," 6 July 2018 Unlike the relentless misery of a show like The Handmaid’s Tale or early seasons of Black Mirror, there’s always hope or relief to be found somewhere in 3%’s narrative web at any given time. Devon Maloney, The Verge, "3% is the most riveting, uplifting dystopian show you’re not watching," 6 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.

See More

First Known Use of misery

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about misery

Statistics for misery

Last Updated

7 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for misery

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

What made you want to look up misery? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


one that collects or salvages junk

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!