Definition of dismay in English:

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Pronunciation: /dɪsˈmeɪ/


[mass noun]
Concern and distress caused by something unexpected: to his dismay, she left him
More example sentences
  • Things got heated, and to my dismay, the racial slurs started, from both sides.
  • To my dismay, his voice seemed to be coming from the back of his throat, rather than from the pit of his stomach.
  • She also played Maria in the musical West Side Story, though, to her dismay, her singing had to be dubbed.
alarm, shock, surprise, consternation, concern, perturbation, disquiet, disquietude, discomposure, distress, upset, anxiety, trepidation, fear


[with object]
Cause (someone) to feel concern and distress: they were dismayed by the U-turn in policy (as adjective dismaying) to most experts, such findings have been somewhat dismaying
More example sentences
  • It all makes for one of the things that most dismays me about public discourse, which is that no one stands up for principle over immediate gratification.
  • It is the combined failure of the Scottish Executive and privatised rail companies to provide co-ordinated leadership that most dismays him and other electrification enthusiasts.
  • But I think the thing that really dismays me, beyond even the faulty reasoning or naive grasp of political realities, is how dull it all is.
appal, horrify, shock, shake, shake up;
disconcert, take aback, confound, surprise, startle, alarm, frighten, scare, daunt, discomfit, unnerve, unman, unsettle, throw off balance, discompose, discountenance;
trouble, bother, concern, perturb, disturb, upset, distress, sadden, dishearten, dispirit
informal rattle, spook, faze, psych, knock sideways, knock for six
archaic pother



Example sentences
  • A different resemblance between the two occupations, however, is now dismayingly germane.
  • Nevertheless, his message is still dismayingly mixed.
  • Their results showed dismayingly low average statistical power.


Middle English: from Old French, based on Latin dis- (expressing negation) + the Germanic base of may1.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: dis¦may

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