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From Middle English drery, from Old English drēoriġ (dreary, sad, sorrowful, mournful, pensive, causing grief, cruel, horrid, grievous, bloody, blood-stained, gory, glorious), from Proto-Germanic *dreuzagaz (bloody), from Proto-Indo-European *dʰreus- (to break, break off, crumble). Cognate with Dutch treurig (sad, gloomy), Low German trurig (sad), German traurig (sad, sorrowful, mournful), Old Norse dreyrigr (bloody). Related to Old English drēor (blood, falling blood), Old English drysmian (to become gloomy).


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  • Rhymes: -ɪəri


dreary (comparative drearier or more dreary, superlative dreariest or most dreary)

  1. Drab; dark, colorless, or cheerless.
    It had rained for three days straight, and the dreary weather dragged the townspeople's spirits down.
    Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary...
    • 1818, Mary Shelley, chapter V, in Frankenstein, volume 1:
      It was on a dreary night of November, that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils.
  2. (obsolete) Grievous, dire; appalling.

Derived termsEdit