\ ˈwō How to pronounce woe (audio) \

Definition of woe

 (Entry 1 of 2)

used to express grief, regret, or distress


plural woes

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

Synonyms for woe

Synonyms: Interjection

Synonyms: Noun

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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

Interjection ah, woe, with the death of the last of my siblings I am alone in this world! Noun The city's traffic woes are well-known. a tale of misery and woe
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Like Manolete’s face, something about this arrangement seems to project gloominess, loneliness or woe. New York Times, 3 May 2022 What begins as an admirable, if naive, act of atonement gradually spirals, in quietly terrifying and mordantly funny fashion, into a waking nightmare as a lifetime of class resentment and economic woe comes writhing to the surface. Justin Changfilm Critic, Los Angeles Times, 28 Apr. 2022 The return of the summer box office is here after two years of woe due to the coronavirus pandemic. Pamela Mcclintock, The Hollywood Reporter, 5 May 2022 Their tales of woe are being shared online, weeks after millions of residents were first confined to their homes without adequate access to food, medicine and other necessities. Karen Kaplanscience And Medicine Editor, Los Angeles Times, 26 Apr. 2022 Other businesses shared similar tales of woe, like Trade Street Jam Co., which saw a 38 percent drop in reach on the platform. Jeremy Repanich, Robb Report, 23 Mar. 2022 Garage doors, a straightforward finishing touch, have become a source of woe for the home-building industry, thanks to supply-chain issues. New York Times, 16 Feb. 2022 In his play, the celebrated 19th-century theatrical ne’er-do-well, who died in New York in 1890 after spending his career shuttling back and forth across the Atlantic, told a succulent tale of melodramatic woe. Terry Teachout, WSJ, 6 Jan. 2022 Earlier this summer, discussion about the eventual end of cookies started to shift from woe to celebration of an opportunity. Gil Becker, Forbes, 2 Nov. 2021 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for woe

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

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Cite this Entry

“Woe.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/woe. Accessed 26 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for woe


\ ˈwō How to pronounce woe (audio) \

Kids Definition of woe

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

More from Merriam-Webster on woe

Nglish: Translation of woe for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of woe for Arabic Speakers


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