Definition of misery in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈmiz(ə)rē/

noun (plural miseries)

1A state or feeling of great distress or discomfort of mind or body: she went upstairs and cried in misery he wrote endlessly about his frustrations and miseries
More example sentences
  • This one revolves around a mental case wallowing in misery because her sister stole her boyfriend.
  • This tale of physical misery, compelling as it is, is not the main focus of Young's play.
  • The physical misery it causes has been compared to advanced cardiac disease or cancer.
unhappiness, distress, wretchedness, suffering, anguish, anxiety, angst, torment, pain, grief, heartache, heartbreak, despair, despondency, dejection, depression, desolation, gloom, melancholy, melancholia, woe, sadness, sorrow
informal the dumps, the blues
literary dolor
1.1 (usually miseries) A cause or source of great distress or discomfort: the miseries of war
More example sentences
  • The ‘patriarchal family’ was held to be the main source of children's miseries.
  • As long as we live in this world, we are bound to suffer the miseries and afflictions that beset the human being.
  • What is more, it is as simple as the solution which, after the Second World War, we applied to correct the economic and other miseries that had plagued us during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
affliction, misfortune, difficulty, problem, ordeal, trouble, hardship, deprivation;
pain, sorrow, trial, tribulation, woe



make someone's life a misery (or make life a misery for someone)

Cause someone severe distress by continued unpleasantness or harassment.
Example sentences
  • She felt guilty about Stella making your life a misery.
  • For a start, the new measure will not apply to existing tenants - so if you already live next door to someone who is making your life a misery, this won't help at all.
  • We have a duty to protect the law abiding majority against those who are making their life a misery.

put someone/something out of their misery

End the suffering of a person or animal in pain by killing them.
Example sentences
  • Sometimes it was expressed informally, as when spectators at public demonstrations quietly put the animal subjects out of their misery.
  • He says a doctor approached him, saying a hospital administrator wanted to know what he thought about putting patients out of their misery.
  • Authorities are reviewing patient records, trying to evaluate claims that he administered fatal overdoses of medication to seriously ill patients to put them out of their misery.
informal2.1 Release someone from suspense or anxiety by telling them something they are anxious to know.
Example sentences
  • Maybe I should just put them out of their misery and just tell them the truth?


Late Middle English: from Old French miserie, from Latin miseria, from miser 'wretched'.

  • Misery comes via French from Latin miser ‘wretched’, which also gives us miser (Late Middle English).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: mis·er·y

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