\ ˈwō How to pronounce woe (audio) \

Definition of woe

 (Entry 1 of 2)

used to express grief, regret, or distress



Definition of woe (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a condition of deep suffering from misfortune, affliction, or grief
2 : ruinous trouble : calamity, affliction economic woes

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Synonyms for woe

Synonyms: Interjection

alack, alas, ay, wirra [Irish]

Synonyms: Noun

affliction, agony, anguish, distress, excruciation, hurt, misery, pain, rack, strait(s), torment, torture, travail, tribulation

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Choose the Right Synonym for woe


sorrow, grief, anguish, woe, regret mean distress of mind. sorrow implies a sense of loss or a sense of guilt and remorse. a family united in sorrow upon the patriarch's death grief implies poignant sorrow for an immediate cause. the inexpressible grief of the bereaved parents anguish suggests torturing grief or dread. the anguish felt by the parents of the kidnapped child woe is deep or inconsolable grief or misery. cries of woe echoed throughout the bombed city regret implies pain caused by deep disappointment, fruitless longing, or unavailing remorse. nagging regret for missed opportunities

Examples of woe in a Sentence


ah, woe, with the death of the last of my siblings I am alone in this world!


The city's traffic woes are well-known. a tale of misery and woe
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Zuccarello became the answer to Dallas’s scoring woes with a combination of crafty playmaking and feisty forechecking. The Si Staff, SI.com, "A Question for Each NHL Team to Answer in the Offseason," 30 June 2019 But Fitzgerald’s woes didn’t completely go away after being discovered. Stephanie Nolasco, Fox News, "Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe bonded after suffering from abusive childhoods, book claims," 2 Apr. 2018 Then there are Jared Kushner’s woes, which range from having his security clearance downgraded to reports that Special Counsel Robert Muller is looking into the mingling of Kushner family business and the Trump transition. Margaret Hartmann, Daily Intelligencer, "9 Things Ivanka Trump Would Like Us to Know," 12 Mar. 2018 Put in blunter terms, PEIA’s woes affect a larger share of West Virginia’s population. Sarah Jones, The New Republic, "West Virginia Rises," 27 Feb. 2018 Trufelman, who has a soothing yet engaging voice perfect for the medium, chronicles all the woes of this early American colony, from cannibalism to a stick of dynamite blowing up in John Smith’s lap. Eliana Dockterman, Time, "The 10 Best New Podcasts of the Year So Far," 21 June 2019 But the latest survey results show the woes of the bees aren’t over. Scott Dance, Washington Post, "University of Maryland-led survey finds honeybee losses highest in 13 years this winter," 20 June 2019 Analysts had been voicing concern about the poor early showing for Boeing at the biennial show, the most prestigious in the industry, chalking up the slow deal flow to the woes of its workhorse model, the 737 MAX. Bernhard Warner, Fortune, "Why This Airline CEO Just Bought 200 Boeing 737 MAX Planes—Despite Recent Issues," 19 June 2019 The attendance woes of early April are nothing but a distant memory now. Betsy Helfand, Twin Cities, "Twins fans have Target Field buzzing again," 16 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'woe.' 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 woe


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for woe


Middle English wa, wo, from Old English ; akin to Old Norse vei, interjection, woe, Latin vae

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Statistics for woe

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Time Traveler for woe

The first known use of woe was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for woe



English Language Learners Definition of woe

: a feeling of great pain or sadness
: problems or troubles


\ ˈwō How to pronounce woe (audio) \

Kids Definition of woe

1 : great sorrow, grief, or misfortune : trouble
2 : something that causes a problem

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More from Merriam-Webster on woe

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with woe

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for woe

Spanish Central: Translation of woe

Nglish: Translation of woe for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of woe for Arabic Speakers

Comments on woe

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food or victuals

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