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

Synonyms & Antonyms for pessimist



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Examples of pessimist in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The subsequent loss—completing a sweep that even the worst Nets pessimist wouldn’t have predicted—felt almost merciful. Vinson Cunningham, The New Yorker, 26 Apr. 2022 Smith often describes herself as a recovering pessimist. Sophy Chaffee, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2 Jan. 2022 Mina’s an indefatigable optimist disguised as a despairing pessimist. Globe Staff,, 22 Dec. 2021 The pessimist would suggest the Packers are playing with fire and that lack of dominance will catch up with them in the postseason. Rob Reischel, Forbes, 26 Dec. 2021 One need be neither a pessimist nor a progressive, only a realist, to see that, for all our flaws and faults, the spirit of a Little Liberty is real. Adam Gopni, The New Yorker, 3 July 2021 With just over $800 million in cash left on the balance sheet in March and a lot of debt, that situation looked somewhat precarious to a pessimist. Simon Moore, Forbes, 3 June 2021 But my inner pessimist sees alcohol use continuing in its pandemic vein, more about coping than conviviality. Kate Julian, The Atlantic, 1 June 2021 On paper, the pessimist in me says 8-4, but with a real opportunity, if things break well, to get to 10-2. Josh Newman, The Salt Lake Tribune, 27 May 2021 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for pessimist

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The first known use of pessimist was in 1789

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Last Updated

2 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Pessimist.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for pessimist


pes·​si·​mist | \ ˈpe-sə-mist \

Kids Definition of pessimist

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

More from Merriam-Webster on pessimist

Nglish: Translation of pessimist for Spanish Speakers


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