Definition of misery in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈmɪz(ə)ri/

noun (plural miseries)

[mass noun]
1A state or feeling of great physical or mental distress or discomfort: a man who had brought her nothing but misery the misery of the miner’s existence
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, hardship, suffering, affliction, anguish, anxiety, angst, torment, torture, hell, agony, pain, discomfort, deprivation, poverty, grief, heartache, heartbreak, heartbrokenness, despair, despondency, dejection, depression, desolation, gloom, gloominess, low spirits, moroseness, doldrums, melancholy, melancholia, woe, sadness, sorrow
informal the dumps, the blues
literary dolour
1.1 [count noun] (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, adversity, ordeal, trouble, hardship, deprivation;
pain, sorrow, burden, load, blow, trial, tribulation, woe, torment, catastrophe, calamity, disaster, misadventure, mischance, accident, reverse, reverse of fortune, mishap
1.2 [count noun] British informal A person who is constantly miserable or discontented: have we really been such a bunch of miseries to work with?
More example sentences
  • They said she was a misery because she'd worked the Baby's Room for so long and so many of them died.
killjoy, dog in the manger, damper, dampener, spoilsport, pessimist, prophet of doom, complainer, moaner, mope
informal sourpuss, grouch, grump, wet blanket, party pooper, doom merchant
rare melancholiac



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

Cause someone severe distress by continued unpleasantness or harassment: the blackmail that was making his father’s life a misery
More 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/thing out of their misery

End the suffering of a person or animal in pain by killing them: I’ll send him to our ‘hospice’ tent and then I’ll put him out of his misery
More 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: listeners were put out of their misery just before midday when broadcasters admitted to the April Fool
More 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

Line breaks: mis¦ery

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