Word of the Day : January 8, 2011


adjective WOH-bih-gahn


1 : strongly afflicted with woe : woeful

2 : exhibiting great woe, sorrow, or misery

3 : being in a sorry state

Did You Know?

At first glance, "woebegone" looks like a word that has its meaning backwards; after all, if "begone" means "go away," shouldn't "woebegone" mean "devoid of woe," or "happy"? Not exactly. The word derives from the Middle English phrase "wo begon." The "wo" in this phrase simply means "woe," but "begon" (deriving from Old English "begān") is a past participle meaning "beset." Someone who is "woebegone," therefore, is beset with woe. Since the early 19th century, the word has also been used to describe things that appear to express sadness, as in "a woebegone face."


Jerry's face had the woebegone expression of a man who had just lost a beloved pet.

"The Giants also were able to shake off Kevin Boss' early fumble and kept the woebegone Seahawks from gaining any life from it." -- From an article by Vinny DiTrani in The Record (Bergen County, NJ), November 9, 2010

Name That Synonym

What synonym of "woebegone" can also mean "having a drooping crest or hanging head"? The answer is ...


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