Definition of woebegone
- a woebegone expression
- woebegone tattered clothes
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His face had a woebegone expression.
the most woebegone people that I had ever seen in my life
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.
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."
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