1 : strongly afflicted with woe : woeful
2 a : exhibiting great woe, sorrow, or misery
b : 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 "to 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 began) 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."
"I simply wanted to be left alone to cry. I wanted the opposite of conversation, because for this brief, woebegone interlude, what was there to say?" — Wesley Morris, The New York Times, 2 Aug. 2016
"On a 68-degree afternoon, the Giants (71-59) took out their frustrations on the Braves' woebegone pitching staff in record-setting fashion. Denard Span added a solo homer and Eduardo Núñez also went deep, giving the Giants their first four-homer game at AT&T Park in six years." — Andrew Baggarly, The Mercury News (San Jose, California), 28 Aug. 2016
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Test Your Vocabulary
Fill in the blanks to create an adjective that means "expressive of suffering or woe": p _ a _ n _ i _ e.VIEW THE ANSWER
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