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

Retail The apparel consumer sales sector, which lost 12,700 jobs, has been particularly hard hit in the misery that has become retail, with overall pressure driven by high debt and rising tariff rates. Erik Sherman, Fortune, "3 Sectors Took a Nosedive in Latest Jobs Report," 7 June 2019 There’s something really specific about being a Hoover and the pejorative term that was multigenerationally tethered to economic hard times, misery and antipathy for the struggles of ordinary people. New York Times, "Margaret Hoover and John Avlon on their Post-Partisan Marriage," 11 July 2018 The ones with the misery literally on their front doorsteps. San Francisco Chronicle, "“There is a suitcase full of human s— on the corner of Isis and 13th,” the email read. “Last night, I had to threaten violence to a man smoking crystal meth on my front porch. This morning, my 2-year-old son and I watched a rat rummage through the trash in our gutter.," 25 June 2018 The Travelers Championship, which has often followed a week of misery for players at the U.S. Open, might be easier to score on, but the par-70, 6,841-yard course is no tap-in victory. William S. Paxton, USA TODAY, "Travelers Championship produces thrilling finishes for Jordan Spieth, other pros," 21 June 2018 The misplay helped the Rays to an 8-3 victory that extended a run of misery for the Angels. Jeff Miller, latimes.com, "Angels' slump continues with another loss to the Rays 8-3," 19 May 2018 Peter wasn't interested in working things out, and a court ordering him to give it a try would have only prolonged the misery for us both. Ellie Delano, Woman's Day, "Should It Be Harder To Get A Divorce?," 20 Feb. 2013 Being injured while training for a race is a special kind of misery. Michaela Bechler, Vogue, "Inspired by the New York City Half Marathon? Experts Weigh in on Staying Injury-Free While You Train," 15 Mar. 2019 Photo: Getty Images Ahead of the new U.S. sanctions, which take effect at the stroke of midnight on Sunday in Washington, many of Iran’s biggest oil customers in Asia have scaled back their purchases, compounding the misery. Asa Fitch, WSJ, "On Eve of New Sanctions, Iranian Regime Whips Up Anti-American Anger," 4 Nov. 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

18 Jun 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

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).


incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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