wretch·​ed | \ ˈre-chəd How to pronounce wretched (audio) \

Definition of wretched

1 : deeply afflicted, dejected, or distressed in body or mind
2 : extremely or deplorably bad or distressing was in wretched health a wretched accident
3a : being or appearing mean, miserable, or contemptible dressed in wretched old clothes
b : very poor in quality or ability : inferior wretched workmanship

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from wretched

wretchedly adverb
wretchedness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for wretched



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of wretched in a Sentence

The slums were filled with poor, wretched children. I don't know what's wrong with her, but she looks wretched. families living in wretched poverty the wretched conditions of the refugee camp How did we get into this wretched state of affairs? What a wretched performance that was. That movie was positively wretched.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web In one scene in the show, Marianne gets her period after a wretched weekend with her family. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "How TV Romance Got Radical," 30 Apr. 2020 The pleasant plink of the record falling into place, a click to begin the next tale of someone surviving a wretched heartbreak, and the hand disappeared. Hua Hsu, The New Yorker, "Tuning In to Instagram D.J.s," 17 Apr. 2020 Frances Andrijich for The New York Times Natural wine is healthy and pure; natural wine is wretched and horrible. Eric Asimov, New York Times, "France Defines Natural Wine, but Is That Enough?," 16 Apr. 2020 But there’s still something wretched to me about the way Tiger King has managed to define a cultural moment in which empathy and communitarianism are so crucial. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "Tiger King Is the Most Exploitative Show Netflix Has Made Yet," 7 Apr. 2020 Athletic director Chris Del Conte, in a series of public comments, has talked about how Smart is a good coach, a better person and has battled wretched luck. Chuck Carlton, Dallas News, "How Shaka Smart, Longhorns try to ignore outside noise about job speculations and longshot NCAA Tournament chances," 29 Feb. 2020 Bong’s Parasite is satire and psychological drama that portrays with devastating plausibility, and with all our wretched idiosyncrasies, the absolute worst of human nature. Madeleine Kearns, National Review, "What Two Nominations for Best Picture Say About Film," 10 Feb. 2020 None of the wretched outside world is allowed to seep inside. Jason Gay, WSJ, "Lay Off the Bears Kicker!," 7 Jan. 2019 While funds are now pouring into these facilities, with a mandate that staff spend the money quickly, conditions have historically been wretched. Aaron Cantú, The New Republic, "How Democrats Abetted Trump’s Bloated Border Regime," 7 Jan. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'wretched.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of wretched

12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for wretched

Middle English wrecched, expansion (with -ed -ed entry 1) of wrecche, adjective, in same sense, going back to Old English wrecc, derivative from the base of wræcca, wrecce "exile, stranger, despicable person" — more at wretch-

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about wretched

Time Traveler for wretched

Time Traveler

The first known use of wretched was in the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for wretched

Last Updated

19 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Wretched.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wretched. Accessed 29 May. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for wretched


How to pronounce wretched (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of wretched

: very unhappy, ill, etc.
: very bad or unpleasant
: very poor in quality or ability


wretch·​ed | \ ˈre-chəd How to pronounce wretched (audio) \

Kids Definition of wretched

1 : very unhappy or unfortunate : suffering greatly
2 : causing misery or distress wretched living conditions
3 : of very poor quality : inferior wretched food I have a wretched memory.

Other Words from wretched

wretchedly adverb
wretchedness noun

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on wretched

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


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

May 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a blooming wisteria tree
  • Which is a synonym of exiguous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!