Definition of plaintive in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈplān(t)iv/


Sounding sad and mournful: a plaintive cry
More example sentences
  • From a whooshing, gurgling still comes the ringing, plaintive and mournful.
  • The plaintive cry of kids playing in their streets and gardens for many years has been ‘We want our ball back.’
  • There are plaintive cries from MSPs about their workload, which, they argue, can only be sustained with their current numbers.



Pronunciation: /ˈplān(t)ivlē/
Example sentences
  • It's one of the ironies of fame, that those who are not yet famous are prepared to give everything in their determination to succeed, and years later, when they have succeeded, they ask plaintively why their personal lives are a mess.
  • ‘You didn't have to grab my legs like that,’ he said plaintively.
  • His faster songs were rapidly percussive, his slower songs were plaintively rendered in his odd quavering-soprano voice, and they all had that trademark energy.


Pronunciation: /ˈplān(t)ivnəs/
Example sentences
  • His presence resonates strongly on the album; his energy and rhythm permeate through the album's 11 tracks, underscoring the already moody screamo with an uncontrived sense of plaintiveness.
  • The slight plaintiveness of this is underscored by the call to ‘get back to the issues.’
  • Likewise, her voice has a matter-of-fact plaintiveness that defines, but can also box in, her performance.


Late Middle English: from Old French plaintif, -ive, from plainte 'lamentation' (see plaint).

  • Plaintive comes via Old French plainte ‘lamentation’, from Latin plangere ‘to beat, lament’. The legal plaintiff (Late Middle English) is the same word used as a noun. Plangere also gives us Late Middle English complain (the com- being emphatic), and plangent (early 19th century).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: plain·tive

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