Definition of woe in English:

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Pronunciation: /wəʊ/


1Great sorrow or distress (often used hyperbolically): the Everton tale of woe continued
More example sentences
  • This is a woe I suffer from like no other, and cannot wait to be rid of it forever.
  • Even the judiciary adds to the woe by convicting the women for soliciting.
  • And to compound the woe, his father Thomas lost his battle with lung cancer.
misery, sorrow, distress, wretchedness, sadness, unhappiness, heartache, heartbreak, despondency, desolation, despair, dejection, depression, gloom, melancholy;
adversity, misfortune, disaster, affliction, suffering, hardship, pain, agony, grief, anguish, torment
literary dolour
1.1 (woes) Things that cause sorrow or distress; troubles: to add to his woes, customers have been spending less
More example sentences
  • And Pakistan will set England enough conundrums without added injury woes.
  • I want the extreme anti abortionist to understand the woes and difficulties.
  • His chances have been blighted by a catalogue of injury woes and financial difficulties.
trouble, difficulty, problem, trial, tribulation, burden, cross to bear, misfortune, stroke of bad luck, setback, reverse, blow, misadventure, mishap, vicissitude, failure, accident, disaster, tragedy, catastrophe, calamity, adversity, affliction



woe betide (or woe to)

Used humorously to warn (someone) that they will be in trouble if they do a specified thing: woe betide anyone wearing the wrong colour!
More example sentences
  • And woe to him inside a nonconformist clique who does not conform with nonconformity.
  • But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!
  • At another Hotel in Dobrich we were given little slips of paper and woe betide you if you tried to get breakfast without them, not even sight of your room key was enough.

woe is me!

An ironical or humorous exclamation of sorrow or distress: he thinks he can go to his constituents and say ‘Woe is me! I only earn £30,000 a year.’
More example sentences
  • If there were compelling characters or breathtaking lines or an interesting plot, we might not have noticed or cared that the three central characters are essentially just moaning, ‘oh, woe is me!’
  • ‘Alas, it was the right hand of the Government that imposed confiscation upon me, and now its left hand has stolen my seashores - woe is me!’
  • Anyway, my heart yearned to be with you once again, and my soul was in never ending pain. ‘Oh woe is me!’


Natural exclamation of lament: recorded as in Old English and found in several Germanic languages.

  • Many ancient languages, including Old English, Latin, and Greek, had woe or a similar word—a natural exclamation made by someone unhappy or in distress. The medieval word betide, meaning ‘to happen’, comes from the same source as tide, and these days is mainly found in the phrase woe betide, a light-hearted warning that a person will be in trouble if they do a particular thing.

Words that rhyme with woe

aglow, ago, alow, although, apropos, art nouveau, Bamako, Bardot, beau, Beaujolais Nouveau, below, bestow, blow, bo, Boileau, bons mots, Bordeaux, Bow, bravo, bro, cachepot, cheerio, Coe, crow, Defoe, de trop, doe, doh, dos-à-dos, do-si-do, dough, dzo, Flo, floe, flow, foe, foreknow, foreshow, forgo, Foucault, froe, glow, go, good-oh, go-slow, grow, gung-ho, Heathrow, heave-ho, heigh-ho, hello, ho, hoe, ho-ho, jo, Joe, kayo, know, lo, low, maillot, malapropos, Marceau, mho, Miró, mo, Mohs, Monroe, mot, mow, Munro, no, Noh, no-show, oh, oho, outgo, outgrow, owe, Perrault, pho, po, Poe, pro, quid pro quo, reshow, righto, roe, Rouault, row, Rowe, sew, shew, show, sloe, slow, snow, so, soh, sow, status quo, stow, Stowe, strow, tally-ho, though, throw, tic-tac-toe, to-and-fro, toe, touch-and-go, tow, trow, undergo, undersow, voe, whacko, whoa, wo, Xuzhou, yo, yo-ho-ho, Zhengzhou, Zhou

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