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 Its woebegone people — faces and facts devoid of political analysis — are like an army of the brainwashed. Armond White, National Review, 16 June 2021 The Twins were leading woebegone Pittsburgh 5-3 in the late innings and on their way to an 11-2 start. La Velle E. Neal Iii, Star Tribune, 24 Apr. 2021 Now, the once-woebegone Wizards are in the playoffs as the No. 8 after beating the Indiana Pacers 142-115 in the win-or-go-home play-in game on Thursday. Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY, 21 May 2021 Is there a more woebegone movie genre than the video game adaptation? Jake Coyle, Star Tribune, 21 Apr. 2021 Baylor’s second career as a personnel executive with the woebegone Los Angeles Clippers was much less successful. NBC News, 22 Mar. 2021 Baylor’s second career as a personnel executive with the woebegone Los Angeles Clippers was much less successful. BostonGlobe.com, 22 Mar. 2021 The Saints, largely a woebegone franchise prior to the arrival of Brees and Payton, have reached the playoffs in nine of the 15 seasons since their arrival, winning the NFC South the past four seasons. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, 15 Mar. 2021 When Brees arrived, the Saints were a woebegone franchise coming off a 3-13 season in 2005, with one playoff victory in 39 years. New York Times, 14 Mar. 2021

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

19 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Woebegone.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/woebegone. Accessed 27 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for woebegone



English Language Learners Definition of woebegone

: looking or feeling very sad

More from Merriam-Webster on woebegone

Nglish: Translation of woebegone for Spanish Speakers


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