Also found in: Thesaurus, Idioms.


1. Causing gloom or depression; dreary: dismal weather; took a dismal view of the economy.
2. Characterized by ineptitude, dullness, or a lack of merit: a dismal book; a dismal performance on the cello.
3. Obsolete Dreadful; disastrous.
Chiefly South Atlantic US See pocosin.

[Middle English, unlucky days, unlucky, from Anglo-Norman, unlucky days, from Medieval Latin diēs malī : Latin diēs, pl. of diēs, day; see dyeu- in Indo-European roots + Latin malī, pl. of malus, evil; see mel- in Indo-European roots.]

dis′mal·ly adv.
dis′mal·ness n.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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Celia thought with some dismalness of the time she should have to spend as bridesmaid at Lowick, while the curate had probably no pretty little children whom she could like, irrespective of principle.
"There is one pleasure, I know, Maggie, that your deepest dismalness will never resist," said Lucy, beginning to speak as soon as she entered the room.
Mind-set issue, especially melancholy, connected with epilepsy (and incorporating into the postictal state (Kanner et al 1996) are an essential issue with significant dismalness; be that as it may, this point is past the extent of this audit and has been inspected as of late somewhere else (Kanner 2005).