woe·​ful | \ ˈwō-fəl How to pronounce woeful (audio) \
variants: or less commonly woful

Definition of woeful

1 : full of woe : grievous woeful prophecies
2 : involving or bringing woe
3 : lamentably bad or serious : deplorable woeful ignorance

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Other Words from woeful

woefully \ ˈwō-​f(ə-​)lē How to pronounce woefully (audio) \ adverb
woefulness \ ˈwō-​fəl-​nəs How to pronounce woefulness (audio) \ noun

Examples of woeful in a Sentence

The puppy had woeful eyes. The student's grades were woeful.
Recent Examples on the Web But there is still a woeful shortage of diagnostic tests for coronavirus infections, because of unprecedented demand for chemicals and supplies. Marla Broadfoot, Scientific American, "Coronavirus Test Shortages Trigger a New Strategy: Group Screening," 13 May 2020 Testing is woeful in many places, leading to vast underestimates of the virus’s progress, and deaths are almost certainly undercounted. Ruth Maclean, New York Times, "The Covid-19 Riddle: Why Does the Virus Wallop Some Places and Spare Others?," 3 May 2020 The Knicks, of course, have been Knicks-ing in earnest since a woeful start in November. Marc Stein, New York Times, "Double Trouble for the Knicks and the Nets," 11 Mar. 2020 The Gators haven’t allowed a touchdown in three home games this season, outscoring woeful Tennessee and two lower-division teams 117-3. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Auburn, Florida showcase ‘big-boy ball’ in top-10 matchup," 5 Oct. 2019 Fans are already turning off; tickets for last weekend’s game were going for as little as $4 at one point, and seats for the final home game, Dec. 22 against the equally woeful Giants, could be had for $16 on Wednesday. Usa Today Sports, USA TODAY, "NFL roundtable: Which players, coaches are under most pressure in final month?," 29 Nov. 2019 In early 1987, Young had just finished a forgettable second year with the Buccaneers, a woeful franchise that went 2-14 in each season. Eric Branch, San Francisco Chronicle, "49ers’ trade for Steve Young: a tale of intrigue, succession and tampering," 24 Apr. 2018 After our investigation into Indianapolis’ woeful — and dangerous — lack of street lights, the city announced an agreement with Indianapolis Power & Light to increase the number of streetlights by as many as 4,000. Alvie Lindsay, Indianapolis Star, "Your subscription helps IndyStar investigate the powerful, protect the vulnerable," 16 Mar. 2020 That proved the system’s Waterloo after two woeful decades, during which Britain earned the ninth-lowest tally of points of 49 competing countries. The Economist, "The politics of pop The BBC is taking back control of Eurovision," 29 Feb. 2020

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for woeful

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

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Statistics for woeful

Last Updated

18 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Woeful.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/woeful. Accessed 31 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for woeful


How to pronounce woeful (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of woeful

: full of woe : very sad
: very bad


woe·​ful | \ ˈwō-fəl How to pronounce woeful (audio) \

Kids Definition of woeful

1 : full of grief or misery a woeful heart a woeful tale
2 : bringing woe or misery a woeful day
3 : very bad Your grades are woeful.

Other Words from woeful

woefully adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on woeful

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for woeful

Spanish Central: Translation of woeful

Nglish: Translation of woeful for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of woeful for Arabic Speakers

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