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

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

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What does the word misery mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language as well as Collins English Dictionary and American Heritage, the word misery is a noun that refers to a state of suffering, a circumstance or thing that causes suffering, or a state of unhappiness or emotional distress.  This great unhappiness could be caused by afflictions, ailments, poverty, or some other source of distress. You can add the suffix ies to create the plural miseries. There is also a Stephen King book titled Misery that follows the plot of the characters Paul Sheldon and Annie.

Many different languages also contain words that mean misery. You may notice that many of these words look and sound alike. These are called cognates, which are words and phrases in different languages that mean the same thing and look similar. These are often formed when words have the same root or language of origin. This list of translations for the word misery is provided by Word Sense.

  •  French: misère‎
  •  Bulgarian: нещастие‎, страдание‎
  •  Spanish: miseria‎ (fem.)
  •  Esperanto: mizero‎
  •  Irish: aimléis‎ (fem.)
  •  Russian: несча́стье‎ (neut.), го́ре‎ (neut.), му́ка‎ (fem.), страда́ние‎ (neut.), беда́‎ (fem.)
  •  Roman: jad‎ (masc.), beda‎ (fem.)
  •  Swedish: misär‎, elände‎ (neut.)
  •  Dutch: ellende‎ (fem.)
  •  Polish: nieszczęście‎ (neut.), męka‎ (fem.)
  •  Slovak: nešťastie‎ (neut.), bieda‎ (fem.)
  •  Catalan: misèria‎ (fem.)
  •  Mandarin: 苦難‎, 苦难‎ (kǔnàn), 痛苦‎ (tòngkǔ), 悲慘‎, 悲惨‎ (bēicǎn), 不幸‎ (bùxìng), 苦痛‎ (kǔtòng)
  •  Cyrillic: јад‎ (masc.), беда‎ (fem.)
  •  Danish: elendighed‎
  •  Romanian: mizerie‎ (fem.)
  •  German: Misere‎ (fem.), Elend‎ (neut.)
  •  Japanese: 悲惨‎ (ひさん, hisan), 苦痛‎ (くつう, kutsū), 惨め‎
  •  Ukrainian: нещастя‎, біда‎, горе‎
  •  Slovene: beda‎ (fem.), nesreča‎ (fem.)
  •  Ido: mizero‎
  •  Portuguese: miséria‎
  •  Finnish: kärsimys‎
  •  Luxembourgish: Misär‎ (masc.)
  •  Macedonian: несреќа‎
  •  Italian: miseria‎
  •  Belarusian: няшчасце‎ (fem.), бяда‎, гора‎
  •  Czech: neštěstí‎ (neut.), bída‎ (fem.)

How can the word misery be used in a sentence?

The word misery can be used in many different settings.Using words in a sentence is the best way to remember their definition. Try using this word of the day in a sentence today! Below are many examples of misery. 

The refugees found that their misery was not only caused by the lack of food, but also the active infection they faced. There was no chance of a final rescue from this condition of great wretchedness.

As a result of physical circumstances, the boy was put into extreme poverty. Not only did he have the miseries of adolescence, but he also faced utter misery every day.

She found abject misery when she discovered that the airport did not have any options for the major meals of a day or her list of snacks since she had so many dietary restrictions. 

All celebrities may seem happy on the outside when they are playing the main character, often they face many of the same miseries of life their fans do. 

The level of misery in the slums was much higher in the last years of her life than when she lived there as a child. The cause of such unhappiness came from extreme poverty and starvation. 

The young woman was faced with the miseries of unemployment after being fired. She thought that her best novel she wrote at Princeton University meant this would never happen to her. 

The young student thought that boarding school was going to be the best time of her life, but it was filled with bullying, misery, and torment. She decided to go back to her public school and her parents after only one semester at the school. 

The life on the farm was filled with misery. The children were responsible for the livestock and cultivation, and could never complete their own lists of tasks before being given a new list by their lazy parents.

What is the origin of the word misery?

According to Etymonline, the word misery has been used since the late 14th century Middle English to refer to a condition of unhappiness. This comes from the Old French misere, a 12th century word. This comes from the Latin miseria, from the Old Latin miser. This word has been used to mean a condition of sorrow since the 1530s.

What are synonyms and antonyms for the word misery?

There are many different words that have the same meaning as the word misery. These are called synonyms. Synonyms are a great way to expand your vocabulary and avoid repeating yourself. This list of synonyms for the word misery is provided by Thesaurus

  •  dolor
  •  distress
  •  worry
  •  wretchedness
  •  woe
  •  gloom
  •  hardship
  •  suffering
  •  squalor
  •  depression
  •  discomfort
  •  stitch
  •  headache
  •  anvil chorus
  •  despondency
  •  despair
  •  sadness
  •  grief
  •  twinge
  •  hurting
  •  unhappiness
  •  pang
  •  bad news
  •  throe
  •  melancholy
  •  heartache
  •  desolation
  •  anguish
  •  torture
  •  agony
  •  worriment
  •  sorrow
  •  passion
  •  torment
  •  ache
  •  blues
  •  privation
  •  nightmare
  •  misfortune

There are also many different words that have the opposite meaning of the word misery. These opposite words are called antonyms, which are another great way to expand your vocabulary. This list of antonyms is also provided by Thesaurus.

  •  optimism
  •  sanctity
  •  content
  •  seventh heaven
  •  blessedness
  •  elation
  •  vivacity
  •  mirth
  •  pleasure
  •  paradise
  •  playfulness
  •  enchantment
  •  glee
  •  prosperity
  •  geniality
  •  hopefulness
  •  joy
  •  joviality
  •  exuberance
  •  jubilation
  •  delectation
  •  euphoria
  •  well-being
  •  peace of mind
  •  cheerfulness
  •  delirium
  •  delight
  •  gaiety
  •  hilarity
  •  exhilaration
  •  ecstasy
  •  high spirits
  •  cheer
  •  enjoyment
  •  happiness
  •  good spirits
  •  beatitude
  •  bliss
  •  satisfaction
  •  cheeriness
  •  gladness
  •  good humor
  •  laughter
  •  merriment
  •  felicity
  •  lightheartedness
  •  rejoicing
  •  good cheer
  •  contentment

Overall, the word misery refers to extreme unhappiness, emotional unhappiness, wretchedness of condition, period of despondency, or other conditions of great misery. This word can also be used to refer to a cause of such suffering. This word comes from Latin and the Old French miserie.


  1. misery | Origin and meaning of misery | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  2. misery: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  3. MISERY Synonyms: 111 Synonyms & Antonyms for MISERY | Thesaurus 
  4. HAPPINESS Synonyms: 62 Synonyms & Antonyms for HAPPINESS | Thesaurus