adj. sad·der, sad·dest
1. Showing, expressing, or feeling sorrow or unhappiness: a sad face.
2. Causing sorrow or gloom; depressing: a sad movie; sad news.
3. Deplorable or inadequate; sorry: a sad state of affairs; a sad excuse.
4. Dark-hued; somber.
[Middle English, weary, sorrowful, from Old English sæd, sated, weary; see sā- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Synonyms: sad, melancholy, sorrowful, doleful, woebegone, desolate
These adjectives mean affected with or marked by unhappiness, as that caused by affliction. Sad is the most general: "Better by far you should forget and smile / Than that you should remember and be sad" (Christina Rossetti).
Melancholy can refer to lingering or habitual somberness or sadness: a melancholy poet's gloomy introspection. Sorrowful applies to emotional pain as that resulting from loss: sorrowful mourners at the funeral. Doleful describes what is mournful or morose: the doleful expression of a reprimanded child. Woebegone suggests grief or wretchedness, especially as reflected in a person's appearance: "His sorrow ... made him look ... haggard and ... woebegone" (George du Maurier).
Desolate applies to one that is beyond consolation: "Now she was desolate, a widow in a foreign country" (Nigel Hamilton).
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.