The Meaning of Bleak: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of bleak? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word bleak, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word bleak mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language as well as other dictionaries like Collins English Dictionary and American Heritage, the word bleak is an adjective that means either exposed, barred, and windswept, cold or raw, and lacking in warmth, kindness, or hope. The pronunciation of bleak is bliːk. Try using this adjective to describe something today, or one of its variants: bleakly, bleaker, or bleakest. This word has a negative connotation, so be very careful!

There are many different languages that also use words that mean bleak. You may notice that many of these words look similar to the word bleak. This is likely because they have a common origin. Often, languages that have a common language of origin, like Latin or Greek, will contain many cognates, which are words that look, sound, and mean similar things. This list of translations for the word bleak is provided by Word Sense

  •  Finnish: kalpea‎, väritön‎
  •  Bulgarian: блед‎, безцветен‎
  •  Italian: pallido‎, incolore‎
  •  German: farblos‎, bleich‎, ausgeblichen‎
  •  Georgian: უფერული‎, ფერმკრთალი‎
  •  Greek: άχρωμος‎ (masc.)
  •  Spanish: sin color‎, pálido‎
  •  French: morne‎, terne‎
  •  Turkish: solgun‎, soluk‎, renksiz‎
  •  Portuguese: pálido‎ (masc.), pálida‎ (fem.)
  •  Russian: бесцве́тный‎, бле́дный‎
  •  Estonian: kaame‎, kahvatu‎, plass‎
  •  Dutch: bleek‎, kleurloos‎
  •  Swedish: blek‎, färglös‎

How can the word bleak be used in a sentence?

The word bleak can be used in many different sentences in the English language. Using words in a sentence is a great way to memorize their definition. You can also make flashcards or make yourself quizzes. Try using this word of the day in a sentence today to lock it into your vocabulary! Below are many examples of bleak.

She searched and search for the slender silvery european cyprinid fish of the genus alburnus alburnus and family cyprinidae, but the lack of silvery scales in the water gave the ichthyologist a bleak outlook on finding the small European river fish.

The sailor was devastated by the bleak winds of the north Atlantic and thought he would never make it home, until he saw the flashing lights of the rescue boat ahead of him.

The astronaut thought the laning would be amazing, but the bleak landscape and desolate surface of the moon gave her child to her spine.

Her outlook on the wedding was bleak after she got the alteration on her dress done.

They searched for shelter and sustenance in the bleak treeless regions of the high Andes to no avail.

After his firing, the ad executive ended up with a bleak outlook on life. He didn’t think he would ever land a job of that caliber again.

What are synonyms and antonyms of the word bleak?

There are many different words that one can use in place of the word bleak. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same meaning as another word or phrase. Synonyms are very useful English grammatical devices to know because they can help you to avoid repeating yourself as well as to expand your vocabulary. This list of synonyms for the word bleak is provided by Thesaurus

  •  grim
  •  bare
  •  bulldozed
  •  drear
  •  weather-beaten
  •  cheerless
  •  gloomy
  •  oppressive
  •  exposed
  •  deforested
  •  blank
  •  chilly
  •  gaunt
  •  harsh
  •  comfortless
  •  lonely
  •  discouraging
  •  raw
  •  austere
  •  cleared
  •  desert
  •  dark
  •  open
  •  cold
  •  scorched
  •  dreary
  •  flat
  •  unpopulated
  •  burned
  •  bombed
  •  hard
  •  joyless
  •  melancholy
  •  disheartening
  •  deserted
  •  stripped
  •  barren
  •  desolate
  •  hopeless
  •  wild
  •  mournful
  •  funereal
  •  sad
  •  windswept
  •  black
  •  blighted
  •  unpromising
  •  dismal
  •  somber
  •  unsheltered

There are also many different words that mean the opposite of the word underlying. These opposite words are called antonyms. Antonyms are also useful to know if you are trying to expand your English language vocabulary. This list of antonyms is also provided by Thesaurus

  •  enlivening
  •  cheery
  •  perky
  •  rosy
  •  peppy
  •  hearty
  •  high
  •  full of pep
  •  zippy
  •  glad
  •  roseate
  •  enthusiastic
  •  jocund
  •  bouncy
  •  sprightly
  •  lighthearted
  •  lively
  •  effervescent
  •  chirpy
  •  in high spirits
  •  cheerful
  •  chipper
  •  hilarious
  •  upbeat
  •  airy
  •  jolly
  •  contented
  •  bright
  •  optimistic
  •  jaunty
  •  pleasant
  •  in good spirits
  •  zappy
  •  good-humored
  •  joyful
  •  up
  •  sunny side up
  •  vivacious
  •  bucked
  •  animated
  •  snappy
  •  happy
  •  gay
  •  zingy
  •  sparkling
  •  hopeful
  •  winsome
  •  buoyant
  •  merry
  •  sunny
  •  gladsome
  •  sanguine
  •  good-natured
  •  blithe

What is the origin of the word bleak?

According to Etymonline, the word bleak has been used as an adjective since 1300, in the Middle English bleik or Middle English bleke/bleche/blay, from the Old English blāc or Old English blǣc. This comes from the Old Norse bleikja and bleikr meaning pale or blond, from the Proto-Germanic blaika/blaikaz meaning shining or white.  This is also the source of the Old Saxon blek, Dutch bleek, Swedish blek, Faroese bleikur, Icelandic bleikur, Danish bleg, Low German blek, Old High German bleih and German bleich. This is of Proto-Indo-European roots, the word bhel meaning to shine white. The original English sense is now obsolete.This word has only survived in the sense of bare or barren, a figurative usage that has been around since 1719. One can add different suffixes including ly and ness to create the adverb bleakly and noun bleakness. Related words from the same root include the English bleach and other words related to a white colour.

Overall, the word bleak (adj.) means having little hope, or it can refer to a stark landscape of barren lands and bare rocky hills. Someone who has a bleak outlook has a dim view of things. This word comes from the Old English blǣge/blǣċ and earlier Middle English blak.


  1. BLEAK Synonyms: 81 Synonyms & Antonyms for BLEAK | Thesaurus 
  2. CHEERFUL Synonyms: 76 Synonyms & Antonyms for CHEERFUL | Thesaurus 
  3. bleak: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  4. bleak | Origin and meaning of bleak | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  5. Bleak | Definition of Bleak | Merriam-Webster