Plaintive is an adjective for describing someone or something with a pleading, sorrowful, desperate tone. If you have ever heard the plaintive howl of a wolf, then you know what we are getting at here.

A plaint, as in complaint, is an expression of sorrow or grief. This word has also been bent a little at the ends to become plaintiff, or complainant—the sufferer—in a lawsuit. So, whether you are hearing a plaintive tone in a courtroom, at a funeral, or in the wild (as in an animal's plaintive howl), you can be assured that someone or something desires something desperately.

Definitions of plaintive

adj expressing sorrow

experiencing or marked by or expressing sorrow especially that associated with irreparable loss

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