pes·​si·​mist | \ ˈpe-sə-mist also ˈpe-zə- How to pronounce pessimist (audio) \
plural pessimists

Definition of pessimist

: a person who is inclined to expect poor outcomes : someone who is given to pessimism … such was the success of the first venture that many must now be optimistic where most were pessimists at the beginning of the year and for several years before.— Francis Byrne For pessimists, the heavens offer a host of doomsday scenarios—an asteroid crashing into Earth or deadly cosmic rays raining down on the planet.— R. Cowen

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Synonyms & Antonyms for pessimist




optimist, Pollyanna

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Examples of pessimist in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Call me a pessimist, but a bathtub with an overflow drain is a tub that’s almost always half empty. Jessica Teich, Good Housekeeping, "This $9 Drain Cover Solves Your Biggest Bathtub Problem," 30 May 2019 The coalition parties recently criticized the Bank of Italy for making more pessimist economic forecasts than the government’s own. Giovanni Legorano, WSJ, "Italy’s Populist Government Takes Aim at Central Bank," 10 Feb. 2019 Some may say that’s a pessimist’s credo, and that those of us who worry about how the current political climate will impact reproductive rights are just liberal Chicken Littles. Molly Finneseth, Glamour, "How to Be Prepared if Roe v. Wade Is Overturned," 22 Jan. 2019 As market pessimism feeds on itself, take the advice of the father of value investing, Benjamin Graham, and buy from the pessimists. James Mackintosh, WSJ, "Tech Malaise or Something Much Worse: How to Read the Markets," 30 Oct. 2018 Complacent people are pessimists and kind of useless and destructive. Eric Johnson, Recode, "If you can quit social media, but don’t, then you’re part of the problem, Jaron Lanier says," 27 July 2018 Mario Tama/Getty Images Elon Musk is usually far from a technological pessimist. Kelsey Piper, Vox, "Why Elon Musk fears artificial intelligence," 2 Nov. 2018 Put crudely, the pessimists believe that markets drive the economy. The Economist, "Even stockmarket bulls are more cautious than at the start of the year," 12 July 2018 The results show optimists outnumber pessimists but that difference is shrinking. Yuri Kageyama, The Seattle Times, "Bank of Japan survey shows corporate sentiment worsening," 2 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pessimist.' 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 pessimist

1789, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for pessimist

pessim(ism) + -ist entry 1, after French pessimiste

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Statistics for pessimist

Last Updated

13 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for pessimist

The first known use of pessimist was in 1789

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More Definitions for pessimist



English Language Learners Definition of pessimist

: a person who usually expects bad things to happen


pes·​si·​mist | \ ˈpe-sə-mist\

Kids Definition of pessimist

: a person who habitually expects bad things to happen or thinks things are bad

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More from Merriam-Webster on pessimist

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pessimist

Spanish Central: Translation of pessimist

Nglish: Translation of pessimist for Spanish Speakers

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