Miserable goes way beyond sad — it means absolutely wretched. Someone who's miserable feels absolutely awful.

If you were caught in the pouring rain, missed your own birthday party, and then got food poisoning, you wouldn't just feel bad. You'd be miserable — which means exceptionally unhappy. Victor Hugo's novel, Les Miserables ("The Miserable Ones"), is the story of people who live a wretched life filled with death and unhappiness. You might want to bring some tissues if you're heading to the musical!

Definitions of miserable
  1. adjective
    very unhappy; full of misery
    “he felt depressed and miserable
    synonyms: suffering, wretched
    experiencing or marked by or causing sadness or sorrow or discontent
  2. adjective
    deserving or inciting pity
    miserable victims of war”
    synonyms: hapless, misfortunate, pathetic, piteous, pitiable, pitiful, poor, wretched
    not favored by fortune; marked or accompanied by or resulting in ill fortune
  3. adjective
    characterized by physical misery
    “a wet miserable weekend”
    synonyms: wretched
    providing or experiencing physical discomfort
  4. adjective
    of very poor quality or condition
    synonyms: deplorable, execrable, woeful, wretched
    of low or inferior quality
  5. adjective
    contemptibly small in amount
    “the company donated a miserable $100 for flood relief”
    “almost depleted his miserable store of dried beans”
    synonyms: measly, paltry
    meager, meagerly, meagre, scrimpy, stingy
    deficient in amount or quality or extent
  6. adjective
    of the most contemptible kind
    “his miserable treatment of his family”
    “You miserable skunk!”
    synonyms: abject, low, low-down, scummy, scurvy
    contemptible, misbegotten
    deserving of contempt or scorn
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by Vocabulary.com’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week