There are 2 main definitions of bleak in English:

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bleak 1

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1(Of an area of land) lacking vegetation and exposed to the elements: a bleak and barren moor
More example sentences
  • Our UN vehicle travelled along a barren and bleak landscape to reach the town from Sofia.
  • The trees are bare, the land is bleak, closed, unproductive and numb, its furrows seemingly incapable of the new life we hope for in the spring.
  • The yard and the vast prairie lands were bleak and desolate.
bare, exposed, desolate, stark, arid, desert, denuded, lunar, open, empty, windswept;
treeless, forestless, without vegetation, defoliated;
unsheltered, unprotected, unshielded
rare unwooded
1.1(Of a building or room) charmless and inhospitable; dreary: he looked round the bleak little room in despair
More example sentences
  • You get a sense of the scale of the city as you speed down rivers that curve forever, flanked by electrical towers, bleak apartment buildings and factories.
  • And it isn't just that so many of its key scenes are set in dark, dreary places: a hellish prison, a bleak factory, the sewers of Paris.
  • Amongst these, a flutter of origami birds was the bright spot, alongside a glossy triptych of photos slotting bleak landscape between bleak tower blocks.
1.2(Of the weather) cold and miserable: a bleak midwinter’s day
More example sentences
  • Our weather was bleak, and in the US the climate was no better, the gloom reflecting the mood of the nation.
  • There are still months of bleak weather stretching out ahead without a glimmer of anything to look forward to, and festive cheer has up and left.
  • Why go back to that bleak weather and humdrum British nine to five?
cold, keen, raw, harsh, wintry;
piercing, penetrating, biting, nipping, stinging, sharp;
freezing, icy, icy-cold, frosty, frigid, chilly
informal nippy
British informal parky
literary chill
1.3(Of a situation) not hopeful or encouraging; unlikely to have a favourable outcome: he paints a bleak picture of a company that has lost its way the future looks bleak
More example sentences
  • Newspaper reports about the topic also opened her eyes to the bleak situation of the elderly.
  • Homeowners in flood-prone areas faced a bleak start to the new year.
  • A bleak exposé of the risk came in a remarkably frank report by Jiang protge Zeng Qinghong, head of the party's powerful organization department.
unpromising, unfavourable, unpropitious, inauspicious, adverse, disadvantageous, uninviting, discouraging, disheartening, depressing, cheerless, joyless, gloomy, sombre, dreary, dismal, wretched, miserable, black, dark, grim, drab, portentous, foreboding, hopeless, ominous
1.4(Of a person’s expression) cold and forbidding: his mouth was set and his eyes were bleak
More example sentences
  • Although his expression was bleak, he smiled at that.
  • She was certain that he was angry - a single glance at his bleak expression could have informed an idiot thus.
  • But he was stuck, following her eyes as the smile left her face and she looked into the distance with a bleak expression.


Pronunciation: /ˈbliːkli/
Example sentences
  • At every machine an earnest young (or not-so-young but trying to look it) person pumps bleakly away, intimidatingly burning those extra pounds, trimming those recalcitrant inches.
  • In the United States, residents of the New Jersey fishing town of Little Egg Harbor are bleakly counting down the hours before the scheduled execution of one of their neighbours, Paul Johnson.
  • As long as I'm on the subject: Friday I found a new installment of the Acme Novelty Library by Chris Ware, which continues to be the most bleakly amusing account of emotional cruelty you'll find.


Old English blāc 'shining, white', or in later use from synonymous Old Norse bleikr; ultimately of Germanic origin and related to bleach.

  • In Old English this meant ‘shining, white’ and came from the same Germanic root as bleach (Old English). The modern sense ‘bare of vegetation’ and ‘chilly’ did not develop until the 16th century.

Words that rhyme with bleak

antique, batik, beak, bespeak, bezique, boutique, cacique, caïque, cheek, chic, clique, creak, creek, critique, Dominique, eke, freak, geek, Greek, hide-and-seek, keek, Lalique, leak, leek, Martinique, meek, midweek, Mozambique, Mustique, mystique, oblique, opéra comique, ortanique, peak, Peake, peek, physique, pique, pratique, reek, seek, shriek, Sikh, sleek, sneak, speak, Speke, squeak, streak, teak, technique, tongue-in-cheek, tweak, unique, veronique, weak, week, wreak
Definition of bleak in:
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There are 2 main definitions of bleak in English:

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bleak 2 Line breaks: bleak


A small silvery shoaling fish of the carp family, found in Eurasian rivers.
  • Genera Alburnus and Chalcalburnus, family Cyprinidae: several species, in particular A. alburnus
Example sentences
  • The flies for pike were naturally bigger than the bleaks, so they left me alone and I got some pike.
  • The browned perch fillets may be added with rice, the lake whitefishes and the small but delicious bleaks.
  • The restaurant offers fish-starters which are a house speciality, marinated bleaks, trout on a bed of rocket, and fillets of smoked eel.


Late 15th century: from Old Norse bleikja.

  • In Old English this meant ‘shining, white’ and came from the same Germanic root as bleach (Old English). The modern sense ‘bare of vegetation’ and ‘chilly’ did not develop until the 16th century.

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