Word of the Day : November 26, 2016


adjective WIST-ful


1 : full of yearning or desire tinged with melancholy; also : inspiring such yearning

2 : musingly sad : pensive

Did You Know?

Are you yearning to know the history of wistful? If so, we can ease your melancholy a little by telling you that wistful comes from a combination of wishful and wistly, a now obsolete word meaning "intently." We can't say with certainty where wistly came from, but it may have sprung from whistly, an old term meaning "silently" or "quietly." How did the supposed transition from a word meaning "quietly" to one meaning "intently" come about? That's something to muse about, but the answer isn't known.


As the car pulled away, Lea cast one last wistful glance at the house where she'd spent so many happy years.

"The book left me in wistful reverie, envisioning that shimmering pond and a rugged, robust old gentleman in his 'herringbone suit' and jaunty wide-brimmed straw hat, sitting on a three-legged wooden chair in front of an easel, his brushes flying." — Elfrieda Abbe, The Star Tribune (Minneapolis, Minnesota), 11 Sept. 2016

Test Your Vocabulary

What noun begins with "n" and refers to a wistful yearning for some past period?



More Words of the Day

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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