adjective Etymology: Middle English, from dismal, noun, days marked as unlucky in medieval calendars, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin dies mali, literally, evil days Date: 15th century 1. obsolete disastrous, dreadful 2. showing or causing gloom or depression 3. lacking merit ; particularly bad <
a dismal performance
dismally adverbdismalness noun Synonyms: dismal, dreary, bleak, gloomy, cheerless, desolate mean devoid of cheer or comfort. dismal indicates extreme and utterly depressing gloominess <
dismal weather
. dreary often interchangeable with dismal, emphasizes discouragement resulting from sustained dullness or futility <
a dreary job
. bleak suggests chill, dull, and barren characteristics that utterly dishearten <
the bleak years of the depression
. gloomy often suggests lack of hope or promise <
gloomy war news
. cheerless stresses absence of anything cheering <
a drab and cheerless office
. desolate adds an element of utter remoteness or lack of human contact to any already disheartening aspect <
a desolate outpost

New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Dismal — Dis mal, a. [Formerly a noun; e. g., I trow it was in the dismalle. Chaucer. Of uncertain origin; but perh. (as suggested by Skeat) from OF. disme, F. d[^i]me, tithe, the phrase dismal day properly meaning, the day when tithes must be paid. See… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • dismal — dismal, dreary, cheerless, dispiriting, bleak, desolate are comparable when they mean devoid of all that makes for cheer or comfort. Dismal and dreary are often interchangeable. Dismal may indicate extreme gloominess or somberness utterly… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • dismal — UK US /ˈdɪzməl/ adjective ► very bad: »In January, after a dismal holiday sales season, the retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. dismal picture/news/outlook »Another damper on investment is the dismal picture for corporate profits …   Financial and business terms

  • dismal — c.1400, from Anglo Fr. dismal (mid 13c.), from O.Fr. (li) dis mals (the) bad days, from M.L. dies mali evil or unlucky days (also called dies Ægyptiaci), from L. dies days (see DIURNAL (Cf. diurnal)) + mali, pl. of malus bad (see MAL …   Etymology dictionary

  • dismal — I adjective black, bleak, cheerless, cloudy, comfortless, dark, deplorable, depressing, despairing, despondent, dim, dingy, dire, disagreeable, disconsolate, dreary, dull, dusky, flat, foggy, gloomy, gray, joyless, lamentable, lifeless, lowering …   Law dictionary

  • dismal — [adj] bleak, dreary, gloomy afflictive, black, boring, cheerless, cloudy, dark, depressed, depressing, desolate, despondent, dim, dingy, disagreeable, discouraging, disheartening, dispiriting, doleful, dolorous, dull, forlorn, frowning, funereal …   New thesaurus

  • dismal — ► ADJECTIVE 1) causing or showing gloom or depression. 2) informal pitifully or disgracefully bad. DERIVATIVES dismally adverb. ORIGIN from obsolete dismals, the two days in each month which in medieval times were believed to be unlucky, from Old …   English terms dictionary

  • dismal — [diz′məl] adj. [ME, orig. n., evil days (of the medieval calendar) < OFr dis mal < ML dies mali, evil days: see DEITY & MAL ] 1. causing gloom or misery; depressing 2. dark and gloomy; bleak; dreary 3. depressed; miserable dismally adv …   English World dictionary

  • dismal — [[t]dɪ̱zm(ə)l[/t]] 1) ADJ GRADED Something that is dismal is bad in a sad or depressing way. ...Israel s dismal record in the Olympics... My prospects of returning to a suitable job are dismal... It was a dismal failure. Syn: terrible Derived… …   English dictionary

  • dismal — adjective 1 a dismal place, situation, thought etc has nothing pleasant in it and makes it difficult for you to feel happy and hopeful: The future looks pretty dismal right now. | a dismal, grey November afternoon 2 bad and unsuccessful: Your… …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

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