wretch·​ed ˈre-chəd How to pronounce wretched (audio)
: deeply afflicted, dejected, or distressed in body or mind
: extremely or deplorably bad or distressing
was in wretched health
a wretched accident
: being or appearing mean, miserable, or contemptible
dressed in wretched old clothes
: very poor in quality or ability : inferior
wretched workmanship
wretchedly adverb
wretchedness noun

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.
Recent Examples on the Web Davis clawed his way to a second term despite his wretched approval rating, which is not to say that Biden will win in November. Mark Z. Barabak, Los Angeles Times, 12 May 2024 Granada has played better as of late after a wretched start to the season. Joseph Dycus, The Mercury News, 21 Apr. 2024 The play, theater’s most potent study of denial, is harnessed by the dominant role of the overbearing father, James Tyrone, whose presence within the wretched, wrecked household requires him to loom large even when offstage. David Benedict, Variety, 3 Apr. 2024 Another passenger had a bad cough and a wretched demeanor. Steve Lopez, Los Angeles Times, 31 Mar. 2024 See all Example Sentences for wretched 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'wretched.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near wretched

Cite this Entry

“Wretched.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wretched. Accessed 12 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


wretch·​ed ˈrech-əd How to pronounce wretched (audio)
: very miserable or unhappy
: causing misery or distress
that wretched accident
: deserving of hatred or disgust
a wretched trick
: very poor in quality or ability
wretched work
wretchedly adverb
wretchedness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on wretched

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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