Student Dictionary

One entry found for dismal.
Main Entry: dis·mal
Pronunciation: primarystressdiz-mschwal
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English dismal "days marked on a calendar as unlucky," from early French (same meaning), from Latin dies mali, literally, "evil days"
: very gloomy and depressing : DREARY <dismal weather>
- dis·mal·ly /-mschwa-lemacron/ adverb
Word History In the Middle Ages calendars marked two days in every month as dies mali or "evil days." These were thought to be unlucky. Astronomers of ancient Egypt were thought to have discovered their evil nature. At first, English dismal was a noun meaning "the set of evil days." By the 15th century dismal was often used as an adjective. A "dismal day" was one of the 24 days each year that belonged to the dismal, the group of unlucky days. Before long the word was being used as a more general adjective, meaning at first "unlucky" and then "gloomy" or "depressing."

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