Definition of plaintive
: expressive of suffering or woe : melancholy a plaintive sigh
plaintive was our Word of the Day on 09/20/2010. Hear the podcast!
Examples of plaintive in a Sentence
We could hear the plaintive cry of a wounded animal in the woods.
the puppy's plaintive expression after we put the toy away was rather amusing
Recent Examples of plaintive from the Web
In Sibelius’ symphony, the plaintive oboe solos by Sarah Skuster, clear flute work by Rose Lombardo, the resonant bassoon playing by Valentin Martchev and Ryan Simmons, the bright trumpet of Micah Wilkinson, the precise timpani of Ryan DiLisi?
There's also one of Antonoff playing some plaintive piano late at night at New York's iconic Electric Lady Studios in December.
Hearty yet shadowy, fanfarelike orchestral bursts alternated with his wistful playing of ruminative passages for violin, rich with Slavic fervor and plaintive lyricism.
This morning, a plaintive cry came in over the voxtubes that snake through the Table of Malcontents HQ, terminating in offices, break rooms, and dark Xerox-parlors all over the building.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'plaintive'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Did You Know?
Like its relative "plangent," "plaintive" is often used to describe sad sounds. "A plaintive wail," for example, is a common use. "Plaintive" and "plangent" (along with relatives "plaintiff" and "complain") ultimately derive from the Latin verb plangere, meaning "to strike," "to beat one's breast," or "to lament." This Latin verb led to "plaint," an Anglo-French word (and now also an English word) meaning "lamentation." "Plaint" is the root of Middle English "plaintif" (meaning "lamenting" or "complaining"), which gave rise to "plaintive" as well as the noun "plaintiff."
Origin and Etymology of plaintive
Middle English plaintif grieving, from Anglo-French pleintif, plaintif, from plaint
First Known Use: circa 1570See Words from the same year
PLAINTIVE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of plaintive for English Language Learners
: expressing suffering or sadness : having a sad sound
PLAINTIVE Defined for Kids
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up plaintive? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).