\ 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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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In Houston, no one has become more intimately familiar with the details of the oil market woes than Chris B. Brown, the city’s chief financial officer and a fourth-generation Houstonian. David Montgomery, New York Times, "It Calls Itself the Energy Capital. Now It Faces 2 ‘Horrifying’ Crises.," 27 Apr. 2020 From a wave of woes our world will emerge stronger. CBS News, "Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman​ offers words of hope amid coronavirus pandemic," 17 Apr. 2020 Reports of OneWeb's financial woes have been circulating for weeks, even as the company made its first significant strides in building its satellite internet constellation. Jackie Wattles, CNN, "Softbank-backed satellite startup OneWeb files for bankruptcy," 28 Mar. 2020 Iowa 79, Indiana 74 Some of the Hawkeyes’ road woes are opponent-related, and one or two missteps have come with opponent shooting percentages enough out of whack as to perhaps hold Iowa a bit less responsible. Geoff Clark, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "Iowa at Indiana college basketball odds, picks and best bets," 13 Feb. 2020 The plan for the Notre Dame product, after two years of shoulder woes, was to establish himself as a top player in Providence. BostonGlobe.com, "“The start certainly helps,” he said during a wide-ranging chat with the Globe during intermission of the Bruins’ 3-2 loss to the Lightning Thursday. “We got off to a strong start, as everybody knows, and were getting points at times where we shouldn’t have.”," 14 Dec. 2019 Lynn describes the citizens of Newtok as some of the first climate refugees in the U.S. That wasn't the end of Alaska's climate woes in 2019. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "The Climate Anxiety Decade: How We Came to Terms With Our Warming World in the 2010s," 10 Dec. 2019 Cheap gasoline is practically considered a birthright in Iran, home to the world’s fourth-largest crude oil reserves despite decades of economic woes. Jon Gambrell, chicagotribune.com, "Iran state TV acknowledges security forces killed people – calling them ‘rioters’ – during protests over gas prices," 3 Dec. 2019 Cheap gasoline is practically considered a birthright in Iran, home to the world’s fourth-largest crude oil reserves despite decades of economic woes since its 1979 Islamic Revolution. Jon Gambrell, Anchorage Daily News, "Iran’s top leader warns ‘thugs’ as protests reach 100 cities," 17 Nov. 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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Time Traveler for woe

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for woe

Cite this Entry

“Woe.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/woe. Accessed 29 May. 2020.

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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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for woe

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with woe

Spanish Central: Translation of woe

Nglish: Translation of woe for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of woe for Arabic Speakers

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