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

Meanwhile, Zhang, the pessimist, on Monday reiterated a sell rating on Apple shares. Don Reisinger, Fortune, "Apple Analysts Give the Bull and Bear Cases For iPhone 11 Demand," 16 Sep. 2019 This is the first time in the president’s tenure when pessimists have clearly outnumbered optimists. The Economist, "Americans are souring on the economy," 6 Sep. 2019 The pessimists suggest that time is running out, not simply for the country—as Buttigieg is fond of repeating in his stump speech and on the debate stage—but for his prospects in an overcrowded field. Eren Orbey, The New Yorker, "A Fresh, Well-Funded Start for Pete Buttigieg in Iowa," 4 Sep. 2019 Here’s a good reason to turn that frown upside down: Optimistic people live as much as 15% longer than pessimists, according to a new study spanning thousands of people and 3 decades. David Shultz, Science | AAAS, "Cheer up! Optimists live longer," 26 Aug. 2019 And a pessimist might further note that failures of leadership lead, in our present, to many of our children being shot. Chris Jones,, "HBO’s masterful ‘Chernobyl’ is about something even bigger than the catastrophe — the truth," 22 Aug. 2019 The challenges the pessimists anticipate aren’t imaginary. Kelsey Piper, Vox, "We’ve worried about overpopulation for centuries. And we’ve always been wrong.," 20 Aug. 2019 There are hints the pessimists may be correct (see Briefing). The Economist, "Deathwatch for the Amazon," 1 Aug. 2019 Under optimistic assumptions, old-age spending would push up Germany’s debt to 75% of GDP by 2060—or 220% if the pessimists are right. Joseph C. Sternberg, WSJ, "Don’t Count on an Aging Germany to Save the Euro," 21 June 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

17 Oct 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

Comments on pessimist

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


involving a confidence or trust

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