Share this entry
wistful Line breaks: wist|ful
Pronunciation: /ˈwɪs(t)fʊl/

Definition of wistful in English:


Having or showing a feeling of vague or regretful longing: a wistful smile
More example sentences
  • Clarke has responded to his critics with a dollop of wistful regret, followed by an adamant refusal to back down.
  • The look on his face is, by now, nearly wistful; the smile almost bittersweet.
  • If you ask about her previous boyfriend and she gets a small, wistful smile on her face, change the subject.
regretful, nostalgic, yearning, longing;
plaintive, rueful, melancholy, sad, mournful, forlorn, disconsolate, woebegone, doleful;
pensive, reflective, contemplative, meditative, dreamy, daydreaming, in a reverie


Pronunciation: /ˈwɪs(t)fʊli/ /ˈwɪs(t)f(ə)li/
Example sentences
  • These days we look back wistfully towards our lost youth.
  • He rustles through a newspaper, muttering disapproval, shaking his head and sighing wistfully about what might have been.
  • He just stands up there, waves wistfully and commands his flock to give ten percent of their wages and go out and help the people of the world.
Pronunciation: /ˈwɪs(t)fʊlnəs/
Example sentences
  • My flirting with him represents some wistfulness, nostalgia and regret of those years past.
  • In contrast to the wistfulness associated with nostalgia, however, the feeling here was one of nervousness, and even desperation.
  • A seasonal wistfulness follows as I remember the faces and places of the Christmases of the past.


Early 17th century: apparently from obsolete wistly 'intently', influenced by wishful.

Definition of wistful in:
Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Related Words