plaintive

adjective
plain·​tive | \ ˈplān-tiv How to pronounce plaintive (audio) \

Definition of plaintive

: expressive of suffering or woe : melancholy a plaintive sigh

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Other Words from plaintive

plaintively adverb
plaintiveness noun

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."

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 on the Web

His voice lived in contrast to his body, small and plaintive. Lena Dunham, Vogue, "Can a Good Man Mistreat You During Sex—If That’s What You Desire?," 18 Mar. 2019 But then something like a melody arrives, and the song begins to resolve itself into something clean, plaintive, not nervous at all. Jon Pareles, New York Times, "The Playlist: Pearl Jam Kicks Up a Fury, and 9 More New Songs," 16 Mar. 2018 Her unmistakable Irish accent and the Celtic inflections of her melodies gave her singing a plaintive individuality and a flinty core. Christine Hauser, New York Times, "Dolores O’Riordan, Lead Singer of the Cranberries, Dies at 46," 15 Jan. 2018 He is perpetually narcotized, endlessly plaintive, borderline disoriented. New York Times, "Post Malone and Rae Sremmurd, Hip-Hop Impressionists Shaping the Stream," 9 May 2018 This is one of her more conventional songs, a tortured ballad that showcases her plaintive voice. Jon Caramanica, New York Times, "A K-Pop Primer for Olympic Listening," 7 Feb. 2018 This is a plaintive group date, because Jason, Wills, and Leo are clearly such good friends. Rebecca Farley, refinery29.com, "The Bachelorette Season 14, Episode 7 Recap: Becca Picks A Supreme Court Nominee," 10 July 2018 His story, less visibly traumatic than Jason's, is more plaintive. Rebecca Farley, refinery29.com, "The Bachelorette Season 14, Episode 6 Recap: Is Now Really The Time For A "Debate"?," 3 July 2018 Lloyd complements Williams’s plaintive growl with his own tenor saxophone cries, in some cases the obbligatos becoming an ongoing commentary. Jon Garelick, BostonGlobe.com, "Charles Lloyd, Lucinda Williams meet at the crossroads," 27 June 2018

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.

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First Known Use of plaintive

circa 1570, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for plaintive

Middle English plaintif grieving, from Anglo-French pleintif, plaintif, from plaint

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Statistics for plaintive

Last Updated

31 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for plaintive

The first known use of plaintive was circa 1570

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More Definitions for plaintive

plaintive

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of plaintive

formal : expressing suffering or sadness : having a sad sound

plaintive

adjective
plain·​tive | \ ˈplān-tiv How to pronounce plaintive (audio) \

Kids Definition of plaintive

: showing or suggesting sadness : mournful a plaintive sigh

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More from Merriam-Webster on plaintive

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for plaintive

Spanish Central: Translation of plaintive

Nglish: Translation of plaintive for Spanish Speakers

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