plaintive

play
adjective plain·tive \ˈplān-tiv\

Definition of plaintive

  1. :  expressive of suffering or woe :  melancholy a plaintive sigh

plaintively

adverb

plaintiveness

noun

plaintive was our Word of the Day on 09/20/2010. Hear the podcast!

Examples of plaintive in a Sentence

  1. We could hear the plaintive cry of a wounded animal in the woods.

  2. the puppy's plaintive expression after we put the toy away was rather amusing

Recent Examples of plaintive from the Web

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


PLAINTIVE Defined for English Language Learners

plaintive

play
adjective

Definition of plaintive for English Language Learners

  • : expressing suffering or sadness : having a sad sound


PLAINTIVE Defined for Kids

plaintive

play
adjective plain·tive \ˈplān-tiv\

Definition of plaintive for Students

  1. :  showing or suggesting sadness :  mournful a plaintive sigh



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to bring about or cause (something)

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