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


atrocious, awful, dismal, execrable, horrible, lousy, punk, rotten, sucky [slang], terrible


bitchin' [slang], great, marvelous (or marvellous), wonderful

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

Mr Trump also excluded a lot of wretched people from it, by temporarily placing additional restrictions on anyone from a secret list of 11 countries, which is said to include South Sudan, as well as Syria and Iraq. The Economist, "LexingtonA lesson in American greatness," 1 Mar. 2018 Bruce, meanwhile, has muddled his way through injuries to a wretched .613 OPS. Jack Dickey, SI.com, "A Reworked Swing Has Brandon Nimmo, Mets Smiling in Surprise Breakout Campaign," 20 June 2018 The mornings-after were wretched, nursing hangovers and swollen, bloodied toes. Krystyna Chávez, Marie Claire, "The Item I Wear to Death: Sam Edelman's Block Heel Mule Sandals," 14 Nov. 2018 What elected Donald Trump, and what sustains him, is not his rather dubious charisma, his ideas, his obvious jolt to the country’s earlier slow economic growth, and no, not even the wretched campaign run by Hillary Clinton. Joseph Epstein, WSJ, "Americans Turned to Trump to Roll Back the Progressive Tide," 19 Nov. 2018 At the time, Windows as a piece of software seemed neglected and unloved, hamstrung by wretched legacy APIs. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Mac mini review—a testament to Apple’s stubbornness," 23 Nov. 2018 The gruesome details of Khashoggi’s murder, and the way that Turkey has seemingly fanned the flames despite its own wretched human rights record, have elevated the story to an international level. Sean O'kane, The Verge, "The future of transportation is being underwritten by Saudi Arabia," 19 Oct. 2018 That could suggest Francis now has an elegant way of getting rid of prelates such as Chilean Cardinal Javier Errazuriz, accused by victims of being a key figure in Chile’s wretched record on abuse and cover-up. Nicole Winfield, The Seattle Times, "Vatican promises ‘clarifications’ to pope cover-up claims," 10 Sep. 2018 But the pay is wretched and player autonomy near-nonexistent. Jack Dickey, SI.com, "Tommy Pham Waited Forever to Make It. Now, He's Got Plenty to Say About His Journey.," 2 Apr. 2018

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

Statistics for wretched

Last Updated

1 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for wretched

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for wretched



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

More from Merriam-Webster on wretched

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for wretched

Spanish Central: Translation of wretched

Nglish: Translation of wretched for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wretched for Arabic Speakers

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).


food or victuals

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!