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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for pessimist



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Examples of pessimist in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Aside from the cybernetic mobsters, this prediction of the near future seems—to the pessimist at least—an all-too-likely endpoint of many wealthy nations’ current trajectories. Reid Mccarter, Wired, "Cyberpunk 2077 Revives the Dystopian Fears of the 1980s," 18 Dec. 2020 To a pessimist, those divergent results may suggest that the amendments are a hollow gesture, and the votes for Trump are a reflection of their genuine sentiment. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Racial Tolerance Was on the Ballot—and Won," 6 Nov. 2020 The parents of a 9-year-old perpetual pessimist asked my advice. John Rosemond,, "Living with Children: The cure for ‘moodiness’," 28 Oct. 2020 In other words, the Cowboys are a hot mess beyond anything the biggest pessimist thought possible. Tim Cowlishaw, Dallas News, "Thought the Cowboys' run defense wasn’t all that bad? The Browns just proved it’s a hot mess," 4 Oct. 2020 Jake’s a pessimist whose cynicism is pleasantly zen. Darren Franich,, "Farewell to Corporate, a great show that saw the world too clearly," 26 Aug. 2020 At the time, Rank may have sounded like a pessimist: Many summer camps hadn’t even been canceled yet. Josefin Dolsten,, "Rabbi, a father, creates online Jewish day school," 4 Aug. 2020 But Graves isn’t a pessimist about the country’s future. Kent Somers, azcentral, "With nation in turmoil, trying to find sports' role proves challenging," 2 June 2020 Most of the literature on the demographic crisis in the West is the work of conservatives: good-vibes natalists like Jonathan V. Last or weary cultural pessimists like Ross Douthat. Aaron Timms, The New Republic, "Making Life Cheap," 18 May 2020

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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Time Traveler for pessimist

Time Traveler

The first known use of pessimist was in 1789

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Statistics for pessimist

Last Updated

27 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pessimist.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for pessimist


How to pronounce pessimist (audio)

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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Nglish: Translation of pessimist for Spanish Speakers

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