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

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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

Hungarian history is a woebegone list of occupations, dashed hopes, and missed opportunities. András Szántó, Condé Nast Traveler, "Why Budapest Is Europe's Unlikely Capital of Hedonism," 29 Aug. 2018 If Friedenberg begins the play with refreshing pluck and sass for a part usually played for woebegone submission, her Ophelia goes jarringly musical theater in her own scene of madness. Lily Janiak, San Francisco Chronicle, "Youth gives some new energy to Marin Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet,’ but not enough," 2 June 2018 The fun began June 25, 2009, when the woebegone Warriors drafted Stephen Curry, an underfed waif from a college that produces chess champions. Scott Ostler, San Francisco Chronicle, "Stephen Curry started — and carried — a Warriors’ dynasty," 8 June 2018 After a year spent off the rails, Taggart also should breathe some life and energy into a suddenly sour and woebegone program. Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY, "Which new college football hire in a major conference will win the most games in 2018?," 29 Jan. 2018 James could go to the Knicks and revive a woebegone franchise that hasn’t won a title since 1973. Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY, "Where will LeBron James play next season? Exploring his free-agency options," 9 June 2018 Hicks has the right look for a woebegone young woman who doesn’t want to take up a lot of space in the world. Charles Mcnulty, latimes.com, "'The Color Purple' national tour turns down the wattage — and burns a little less brightly," 30 May 2018 Kerr assigns Andre Iguodala to run the morning shootaround and McGee to handle the pregame videosession, and lets various players run tim-out huddles against woebegone Phoenix. Scott Ostler, San Francisco Chronicle, "Fun times throughout Warriors’ championship season," 10 June 2018 The woebegone history of Washington’s major team sports over the past couple of decades is well known in the District of Columbia and its suburbs in Virginia and Maryland. Erik Brady, USA TODAY, "Can Capitals break losing spell for woebegone Washington?," 23 May 2018

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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Wodzisław Śląski





woe is me

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Time Traveler for woebegone

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

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English Language Learners Definition of woebegone

: looking or feeling very sad

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More from Merriam-Webster on woebegone

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with woebegone

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for woebegone

Nglish: Translation of woebegone for Spanish Speakers

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