woe·​be·​gone | \ ˈwō-bi-ˌgȯn How to pronounce woebegone (audio) also -ˌgän \

Definition of woebegone

1 : strongly affected with woe : woeful
2a : exhibiting great woe, sorrow, or misery a woebegone expression
b : being in a sorry state woebegone tattered clothes

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Other Words from woebegone

woebegoneness noun

Breaking Down Woebegone

At first glance, woebegone looks like a word that has its meaning backwards; after all, if begone means "to go away," shouldn't woebegone mean "devoid of woe," or "happy"? Not exactly. The word derives from the Middle English phrase wo begon. The wo in this phrase simply means "woe," but begon (deriving from Old English began) is a past participle meaning "beset." Someone who is woebegone, therefore, is beset with woe. Since the early 19th century, the word has also been used to describe things that appear to express sadness, as in "a woebegone face."

Examples of woebegone in a Sentence

His face had a woebegone expression. the most woebegone people that I had ever seen in my life
Recent Examples on the Web Baylor trailed the woebegone Cyclones by 17 points in the first half before getting its act together over the final 20 minutes. Brent Zwerneman, San Antonio Express-News, "On brink of first Big 12 regular season title, Scott Drew hopes it's just the start," 27 Feb. 2021 Ryan Saunders ranks seventh out of 13 on the all-time winning percentage list for the woebegone franchise, ahead of Bill Musselman, Randy Wittman, Bill Blair, Sidney Lowe, Kurt Rambis and Jimmy Rodgers. Dave Campbell, ajc, "Wolves hire Chris Finch as coach, after firing Ryan Saunders," 22 Feb. 2021 Adams’ declaration reminded me of the scene from Animal House, when John Belushi’s character gave a pep talk to woebegone frat brothers. Jarrett Bell, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Seattle Seahawks use defense to win NFC West and 'dammit, it feels good!'," 28 Dec. 2020 And talk about a pair of woebegone franchises failing to help one another. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, "32 things we learned from Week 16 of the 2020 NFL season," 28 Dec. 2020 On Tuesday the Southlake City Council moved forward with a zoning change for the Park Village fountain, ensuring new life for the city’s most woebegone water feature. Anna Caplan, Dallas News, "Long out of order, Southlake’s Park Village fountain is finally set for a makeover," 19 Nov. 2020 Quickly, the Suns have turned from woebegone franchise to one of the most entertaining and improved teams in the NBA led by guard Devin Booker and center Deandre Ayton. Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY, "Opinion: In trading for Chris Paul, Phoenix Suns already one of the most improved teams in NBA," 17 Nov. 2020 Leach and Mississippi State have since hurtled back to earth at warp speed with a 21-14 home loss to oft-woebegone Arkansas and a 24-2 loss at Kentucky last weekend. Brent Zwerneman, ExpressNews.com, "Texas A&M facing a familiar foe in Mississippi State’s Mike Leach," 15 Oct. 2020 After a 31-17 victory over the woebegone Washington Football Team on Sunday at FedEx Field, the Ravens enter Week 5 with a 3-1 record and a manageable October slate. Jonas Shaffer, baltimoresun.com, "In 31-17 win vs. Washington, Ravens show they’re a good team that can get a lot better," 4 Oct. 2020

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for woebegone

Middle English wo begon, from wo, noun + begon, past participle of begon to go about, beset, from Old English begān, from be- + gān to go — more at go entry 1

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Time Traveler for woebegone

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The first known use of woebegone was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

3 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Woebegone.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/woebegone. Accessed 7 Mar. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of woebegone

: looking or feeling very sad

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Nglish: Translation of woebegone for Spanish Speakers

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