Meaning of wretched


The fairy tale Cinderella gives us many examples of uses for the word wretched. Poor Cinderella had a wretched childhood, living in wretched conditions with a wretched stepmother. It would be enough to make anyone feel wretched, or absolutely terrible.

Wretched is an all-around unhappy word. If you’re very ill, heartbroken, or riddled with guilt, you may feel wretched. This word is also used to describe awful living conditions. If your cabin at sleep-away camp is freezing cold and rat-infested, you could describe it as wretched. And if you truly don’t like someone, you might call that person wretched — though maybe not to his or her face.

Definitions of wretched
  1. adjective

    deserving or inciting pity

    wretched life”

    hapless, miserable, misfortunate, pathetic, piteous, pitiable, pitiful, poor


    not favored by fortune; marked or accompanied by or resulting in ill fortune
  2. adjective

    characterized by physical misery

    “spent a
    wretched night on the floor”



    providing or experiencing physical discomfort
  3. adjective

    very unhappy; full of misery

    wretched prisoners huddled in stinking cages”

    miserable, suffering


    experiencing or marked by or causing sadness or sorrow or discontent
  4. adjective

    morally reprehensible


    despicable, slimy, ugly, unworthy, vile, worthless


    morally bad or wrong
  5. adjective

    of very poor quality or condition


    deplorable, execrable, miserable, woeful


    of low or inferior quality

Word Family

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