dismal


dismal
dismal c.1400, from Anglo-Fr. dismal (mid-13c.), from O.Fr. (li) dis mals " (the) bad days," from M.L. dies mali "evil or unlucky days" (also called dies Ægyptiaci), from L. dies "days" (see DIURNAL (Cf. diurnal)) + mali, pl. of malus "bad" (see MAL- (Cf. mal-)). Through the Middle Ages, calendars marked two days of each month as unlucky, supposedly based on the ancient calculations of Egyptian astrologers (Jan. 1, 25; Feb. 4, 26; March 1, 28; April 10, 20; May 3, 25; June 10, 16; July 13, 22; Aug. 1, 30; Sept. 3, 21; Oct. 3, 22; Nov. 5, 28; Dec. 7, 22). Modern sense of "gloomy, dreary" first recorded in English 1590s, in reference to sounds. Related: Dismally.

Etymology dictionary. 2014.

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  • Dismal — Dis mal, a. [Formerly a noun; e. g., I trow it was in the dismalle. Chaucer. Of uncertain origin; but perh. (as suggested by Skeat) from OF. disme, F. d[^i]me, tithe, the phrase dismal day properly meaning, the day when tithes must be paid. See… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • dismal — dismal, dreary, cheerless, dispiriting, bleak, desolate are comparable when they mean devoid of all that makes for cheer or comfort. Dismal and dreary are often interchangeable. Dismal may indicate extreme gloominess or somberness utterly… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • dismal — UK US /ˈdɪzməl/ adjective ► very bad: »In January, after a dismal holiday sales season, the retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. dismal picture/news/outlook »Another damper on investment is the dismal picture for corporate profits …   Financial and business terms

  • dismal — I adjective black, bleak, cheerless, cloudy, comfortless, dark, deplorable, depressing, despairing, despondent, dim, dingy, dire, disagreeable, disconsolate, dreary, dull, dusky, flat, foggy, gloomy, gray, joyless, lamentable, lifeless, lowering …   Law dictionary

  • dismal — [adj] bleak, dreary, gloomy afflictive, black, boring, cheerless, cloudy, dark, depressed, depressing, desolate, despondent, dim, dingy, disagreeable, discouraging, disheartening, dispiriting, doleful, dolorous, dull, forlorn, frowning, funereal …   New thesaurus

  • dismal — ► ADJECTIVE 1) causing or showing gloom or depression. 2) informal pitifully or disgracefully bad. DERIVATIVES dismally adverb. ORIGIN from obsolete dismals, the two days in each month which in medieval times were believed to be unlucky, from Old …   English terms dictionary

  • dismal — [diz′məl] adj. [ME, orig. n., evil days (of the medieval calendar) < OFr dis mal < ML dies mali, evil days: see DEITY & MAL ] 1. causing gloom or misery; depressing 2. dark and gloomy; bleak; dreary 3. depressed; miserable dismally adv …   English World dictionary

  • dismal — [[t]dɪ̱zm(ə)l[/t]] 1) ADJ GRADED Something that is dismal is bad in a sad or depressing way. ...Israel s dismal record in the Olympics... My prospects of returning to a suitable job are dismal... It was a dismal failure. Syn: terrible Derived… …   English dictionary

  • dismal — adjective Etymology: Middle English, from dismal, noun, days marked as unlucky in medieval calendars, from Anglo French, from Medieval Latin dies mali, literally, evil days Date: 15th century 1. obsolete disastrous, dreadful 2 …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • dismal — adjective 1 a dismal place, situation, thought etc has nothing pleasant in it and makes it difficult for you to feel happy and hopeful: The future looks pretty dismal right now. | a dismal, grey November afternoon 2 bad and unsuccessful: Your… …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English


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