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

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

Keep scrolling for more

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 The woebegone Cincinnati Bengals hold that pick, something that will generate interest and questions. Chuck Carlton, Dallas News, "Should Joe Burrow pull an Eli Manning? As the NFL Draft approaches, the Davey O’Brien Award winner knows he has leverage.," 18 Feb. 2020 Even after returning home from a four-game road trip and facing the woebegone New York Knicks, the Bucks were sharp from the start and rolled to a 128-102 victory at Fiserv Forum. Ben Steele, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Bucks 128, Knicks 102: Another dominant victory," 14 Jan. 2020 The answer is clear on the change that Patricia needs to make in order to get this woebegone franchise out of the doldrums: It’s time to add a second pencil. Carlos Monarrez, Detroit Free Press, "Hey, Detroit Lions: Here's the 20 things you can do to return to glory in 2020," 10 Jan. 2020 Former Ravens linebacker Bart Scott, who co-hosts a WFAN show with Maggie Gray, said Adams had seemingly soured on the woebegone Jets’ direction and was looking to cash in elsewhere. Jonas Shaffer, baltimoresun.com, "Bart Scott: Before signing with Cardinals, Terrell Suggs told Ravens, ‘I love this organization too much to steal from’," 31 Oct. 2019 But when the game began, the woebegone Jets quickly raced to a two-touchdown lead. Bill Pennington, New York Times, "Jets Wrestle a Win Away From the Giants," 10 Nov. 2019 Some of the men have put their arms around one another’s shoulders, sort of in a band-of-brothers-ish way, and all of our faces are woebegone and depleted. Barrett Swanson, Harper's magazine, "Men at Work," 28 Oct. 2019 At that point, the Nationals were fourth in the NL East, ahead of only the woebegone Miami Marlins, and the calls for manager Dave Martinez to lose his job were loud. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Turner’s slam helps Nats sweep Phils, clinch wild card," 24 Sep. 2019 Sam Darnold’s ignited the hopes of a woebegone franchise, even during an offseason packed with internal tumult. Albert Breer, SI.com, "How the Colts Are Pushing Forward Without Andrew Luck," 26 Aug. 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about woebegone

Time Traveler for woebegone

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast about woebegone

Statistics for woebegone

Cite this Entry

“Woebegone.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/woebegone. Accessed 5 Aug. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for woebegone


How to pronounce woebegone (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of woebegone

: looking or feeling very sad

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on woebegone

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for woebegone

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with woebegone

Nglish: Translation of woebegone for Spanish Speakers

Comments on woebegone

What made you want to look up woebegone? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

July 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • papercraft sunset
  • Which is a synonym of mien?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!