dis·​may | \ dis-ˈmā How to pronounce dismay (audio) , diz- \
dismayed; dismaying

Definition of dismay

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to cause to lose courage or resolution (as because of alarm or fear) must not let ourselves be dismayed by the task before us
2 : upset, perturb were dismayed by the condition of the building



Definition of dismay (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : sudden loss of courage or resolution from alarm or fear watched with dismay as flames engulfed their home
2a : sudden disappointment announced her retirement, much to the dismay of her fans
b : perturbation sense 1 expressed dismay at his strange behavior

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Choose the Right Synonym for dismay


dismay, appall, horrify, daunt mean to unnerve or deter by arousing fear, apprehension, or aversion. dismay implies that one is disconcerted and at a loss as to how to deal with something. dismayed at the size of the job appall implies that one is faced with that which perturbs, confounds, or shocks. I am appalled by your behavior horrify stresses a reaction of horror or revulsion. was horrified by such wanton cruelty daunt suggests a cowing, disheartening, or frightening in a venture requiring courage. a cliff that would daunt the most intrepid climber

Examples of dismay in a Sentence

Verb Her choice of career dismays her parents. the imposing climb up the mountain dismayed us even before we got started Noun His comments were met with cries of dismay. They watched in dismay as the house burned. Much to the dismay of her fans, she announced her retirement immediately after the book's release. To my dismay, I did not get chosen for the job. We listened with dismay to the news of the accident.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Shaun's seasonal excitement turns to dismay when a farmhouse raid to get bigger stockings for the Flock inadvertently leads to Timmy going missing. Dan Snierson, EW.com, 6 Oct. 2021 Attraction turns to dismay however when his eyes fall and an attractive older woman, provoking one of them to recruit her grandmother to cast a spell on the young man which, of course, backfires. Jamie Lang, Variety, 17 Sep. 2021 But after opening her paycheck, Halford's excitement turned to dismay. Chris Serres, Star Tribune, 10 July 2021 The Food and Drug Administration’s approval of a new drug to treat Alzheimer’s disease, Aduhelm, sparked reactions ranging from jubilation to dismay. BostonGlobe.com, 11 June 2021 Our elation quickly turned to dismay during the first extreme winter. WSJ, 8 June 2021 Remarkably, while 2020 brought burn-out, disease, and dismay to much of America and the world, employees at these high-trust, inclusive companies described heightened feelings of trust, pride, and community. Michael Bush, Fortune, 12 Apr. 2021 But any backing away from overhauling qualified immunity would dismay progressives and civil rights advocates, who believe the Floyd case could and should mark a turning point in US history that helps usher in fundamental reform. Stephen Collinson, CNN, 23 Apr. 2021 But even among Democratic leaders, including mayors and President Biden, dismay over police violence has often been paired with warnings that protesters avoid violence, too. New York Times, 20 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Either smoke or dust can be seen wafting through the car, and through the rear window, both drivers can be seen standing behind the crash, with Grosjean putting his hands to his head in dismay. Nathan Brown, The Indianapolis Star, 22 Sep. 2021 The mayor’s choice also sent a damning message to veteran Black officers in Rhode Island, some of whom contacted NABLEO in dismay after the announcement of Stephens’ appointment on Friday. BostonGlobe.com, 7 Sep. 2021 And the fall of the country to Taliban control came swiftly as those who fought for and fled from Afghanistan watched in dismay. Mary Ramsey, The Courier-Journal, 17 Aug. 2021 Margot glanced inadvertently into the next-door garden, then let go of my hair in dismay. Tessa Hadley, The New Yorker, 26 July 2021 Now, all are trying to leave or have already left Afghanistan, joining a brain drain of such grave proportions that even the Taliban, faced with running one of the world’s poorest countries, has taken notice with dismay. Nabih Bulos, Los Angeles Times, 27 Aug. 2021 Hearne’s soundscape is accompanied by closeup video images of a diverse group of people, who react to unseen events with dismay. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 9 Aug. 2021 When two city buses in a row pulled up right as singer Marc Anthony, who plays the deadbeat dad of a main character, arrived and blocked their view of him, everyone screamed with dismay in unison. Washington Post, 10 June 2021 For decades, scientists who study Earth’s neighbor Venus have watched with dismay as NASA sends mission after mission to Mars. Eliza Fawcett, courant.com, 6 June 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dismay.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of dismay


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for dismay

Verb and Noun

Middle English, from Anglo-French desmaier, from des- dis- + -maier, from Vulgar Latin *-magare, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German magan to be able — more at may entry 1

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Time Traveler for dismay

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The first known use of dismay was in the 13th century

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Last Updated

10 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dismay.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dismay. Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for dismay



English Language Learners Definition of dismay

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to cause (someone) to feel very worried, disappointed, or upset



English Language Learners Definition of dismay (Entry 2 of 2)

: a strong feeling of being worried, disappointed, or upset


dis·​may | \ dis-ˈmā How to pronounce dismay (audio) \
dismayed; dismaying

Kids Definition of dismay

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to feel worry, disappointment, fear, or shock … I was dismayed to see what a mess my guests had made of my tree house.— Jean Craighead George, My Side of the Mountain



Kids Definition of dismay (Entry 2 of 2)

: a feeling of fear, disappointment, shock, or worry We listened with dismay to the bad news.

More from Merriam-Webster on dismay

Nglish: Translation of dismay for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dismay for Arabic Speakers


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