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

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 The Hammers were 2-1 down at half time, but conceded two second half goals in a woeful display by the home side. SI.com, "West Ham Fans Fear Star Player Will Leave Club After Hammers' Negative Display Against Man City," 30 Apr. 2018 Zidane's lackadaisical approach to the tie while one goal up from the first leg epitomised Los Blancos' failings throughout the campaign, with their somewhat woeful attempt at defending La Liga title also evidence of that. SI.com, "Real Madrid vs Leganes Preview: Classic Encounter, Key Battle, Team News & More," 27 Apr. 2018 There is little coincidence that Los Blancos' woeful opening half of the campaign domestically, as well as, in some instances, in Europe coincided with the crisis of confidence the Portuguese was suffering. SI.com, "Why Real Madrid's Galacticos Don't Deserve to Be Remembered as One of Europe's Greatest Ever Sides," 25 May 2018 In May, South America’s top soccer official, Paraguayan Alejandro Dominguez, shocked the U.S. and Mexico by offering a coveted guest spot in the 2019 Copa América tournament to Qatar’s woeful national team. Ken Bensinger, Time, "Why the Most Compelling Drama at the World Cup Might Be Off the Field," 14 June 2018 This season's woeful Orioles start was mostly attributed to the team's uneven roster, with too many passengers who weren't pulling their weight and too many hitters playing not just out of position, but playing positions at all. Jon Meoli, baltimoresun.com, "Trumbo's misplay in right field opens door for 3-run 8th as White Sox rally past Orioles, 3-2," 23 May 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

16 Jun 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

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


incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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