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

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 Yet in his own life, Prince was anything but a cynic or a pessimist. Todd S. Purdum, The Atlantic, "The Man Who Transformed Broadway," 1 Aug. 2019 Before this, there was at least one pessimist for every optimist. Fred Weir, The Christian Science Monitor, "Ukraine votes for reform. Will new president seize the opportunity?," 22 July 2019 While Amazon has vowed that it'll be better prepared when Prime Day kicks off on Monday, pessimists will find an outlet for their skepticism: an online bettor that's taking wagers on whether the site will once again go down. Aimee Picchi, CBS News, "Amazon Prime Day 2019: Now you can bet on a site outage," 12 July 2019 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

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

5 Sep 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).


to make a temporary encampment

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