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 a full accounting of his career must include his resistance to fuel economy and safety standards and his woeful underestimation of the threat posed by foreign automakers. John Gallagher, Detroit Free Press, "Lee Iacocca wasn't perfect: 3 times the auto icon got it all wrong," 6 July 2019 The backdrop of Tuesday’s election is a strange mixture of urban glitter, violent crime and woeful governance. Aaron M. Renn, WSJ, "A Mad Dash for City Hall in the Windy City," 22 Feb. 2019 Todd Collins followed with four woeful incompletions. Will Larkin, chicagotribune.com, "Ranking the 100 best Bears players ever: No. 78, Jay Cutler," 20 June 2019 In contrast, No. 2 RED AGAIN is a woeful 0-0-0 in nine races at Churchill but has caught fire as a 5-year-old, winning three races in a row and five of his six in 2019, all by at least 2 lengths. Gentry Estes, The Courier-Journal, "Expert picks for Thursday night's horse races at Churchill Downs," 19 June 2019 Particularly, those who fancy themselves sportsmen like Senators Tom Tiffany, Duey Stroebel and Devin LeMahieu need to be held responsible for this woeful budget. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Op-ed from a hunter: Wisconsin is failing badly at CWD management," 15 June 2019 An independent federal review of a 2018 fatal oil rig explosion in Oklahoma determined there is sweeping blame to be shared by the entire energy sector and government for a woeful lack of oversight and regulations for onshore oil and gas drilling. Jordan Blum, Houston Chronicle, "Report finds sweeping blame and negligence for fatal Oklahoma rig explosion," 12 June 2019 Starter Chase Anderson allowed three home runs in four innings, then Taylor Williams was lit up for eight runs in an 11-run fifth en route to an embarrassing 16-0 loss to the woeful Miami Marlins at Miller Park. Todd Rosiak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Marlins 16, Brewers 0: A laugher from the very start," 4 June 2019 At the top of the list is the Flyers’ woeful penalty kill, which is 28th out of 31 teams and has clicked at just a 75.3 percent success rate. Sam Carchidi, Philly.com, "Flyers feel good at NHL All-Star break, but division rivals loom in Stanley Cup playoffs chase," 26 Jan. 2018

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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Statistics for woeful

Last Updated

14 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for woeful

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

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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

Comments on woeful

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