Exam Vocabulary and Synonyms for Sadness

On this page, you will find lists of words to help you expand your vocabulary related to the word ‘sadness’. There are nouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs, so you will learn how to put stronger sentences together with more sophisticated language. Practicing forming sentences in this way is particularly good if you are preparing for exams, such as IELTS, GRE, SAT, LSAT, Civil Services, and Banking.

Example Sentence Showing Synonyms and Different Word Forms:

There was misery (noun) in the air, a state of debilitating (adjective) depression (noun). Everyone was despondent (adjective) and forlorn (adjective), and it was all terribly (adverb) depressing (adjective).





In this column, you will find words that you will come across in everyday English, and which are even suitable for exams like IELTS or TOEFL.

*An asterisk means that this word is less popular in everyday English than the other words in the list. These words may also be asked in some simpler exams.

In this column, you will find words that are likely to be asked in more Advanced Exams, such as GRE, MBA, SAT/LSAT, Civil Service, Banks, etc.


Some Nouns for Sadness

(e.g. to be in a state of, or to experience, or to suffer from…)

(also e.g. the depths of misery; a dreadful melancholy; a debilitating depression)



I’ve been in a state of hopelessness since my wife died. I just don’t feel like getting out of bed.

Following the rejection, he experienced a terrible sense of despondency, convincing himself that there was no point pursuing his dreams.

There was an air of gloominess during the meeting, with most employees worried that they wouldn’t have a job on Monday.

She went through a period of melancholy after losing her job. It took some time for her to find her motivation.

Their woes resumed as they emerged from the forest, because now there was a wasteland ahead.

A great sense of dejection came over him, and he buried his face in his hands and cried.

She was no stranger to unhappiness, and had been through many difficult years in foster care.

The sombreness in the air was palpable, and it was hard to return to the festivities after getting such bad news.

I was just overcome by a great sense of sorrow, and I fell to my knees and cried.

He descended into a state of depression, losing the will to live.

*a period/state of downheartedness

*a sense/state of dispiritedness


Some Adjectives to Describe Sadness

(e.g. to be or to feel…)

(e.g. understandably inconsolable; immeasurably distraught; deeply miserable)



My sister was inconsolable when her husband died. We all had to keep an eye on her.

I felt terribly dejected when my business plan fell through. It was hard to pick myself up after that.

We were absolutely devastated when we heard the news.

After a few drinks, the old man always got a bit maudlin, going on about how great things were in the past.

You shouldn’t be so discouraged. I’m sure things will get better.

You could see how dreadfully despondent he was. He walked slowly and wouldn’t look anyone in the eyes.

He looked dreadfully downcast the last time we saw him.

The music was awfully sombre, and everyone left the place feeling horrible.

Oh, my God, I’m completely miserable lately. I need some fun.

When he came through the door, it was clear that her mood was morose and slightly threatening.

They were totally distraught when the police informed them of the accident.

I just get so melancholy/melancholic when I’m drinking. I start thinking about how things could have been.

She seems terribly unhappy since her dog died.

She seemed very disconsolate that evening, as if nothing would ever make her smile again.

You look unbelievably glum today.

We were completely desolate when our daughter went missing.

The team seemed rather dispirited following their loss. It would be difficult to life their spirits again.

The poor child looked so dreadfully forlorn that I just wanted to give her a hug.

It’s not completely hopeless, you know. Let’s focus on the positive side.

The puppy made a doleful sound that brought a tear to my eye. I couldn’t leave him behind.

I think I just feel dreadfully low these days.

She was absolutely heartbroken when the relationship ended. She hadn’t seen it coming!

He felt awfully down that day, as if a dark cloud had descended upon him.

I’ve been feeling a bit gloomy since things went wrong between us. Can we fix it?

Don’t look so downhearted. Things will brighten up. You’ll see.

I was extremely depressed, so I had to go on medication.

With a woeful* expression, she turned away from her friends and headed home.

*This is often used to describe something that is of bad quality or is horrible, e.g. That movie was absolutely woeful; or The food in this place is woeful!

*very/terribly blue



*absolutely/completely wretched

*terribly/dreadfully sorrowful


Some Verbs for Experiencing Sadness

(e.g. to despair of/for the future; to lament your situation; to wallow in grief)



The way things are going, I despair for the future for my grandchildren.

He bewailed* these dreadful circumstances rather dramatically, as if he would never recover. *archaic/literary usage

It’s not healthy to wallow in self-pity. It will only bring you down.

The article in the newspaper was bemoaning* the state of the welfare system.

*archaic/literary usage

You know, you don’t need to suffer in silence. There are plenty of support groups out there.

The poem really lamented* the social situation in the country, reflecting on the poverty and corruption.

*archaic/literary usage

We mourned the loss of our mother for a long time, but she would have wanted us to pick ourselves up and carry on.

She endured years of terrible abuse at the hands of her husband. He was a vile man with no respect for women.

The family grieved over his death, but they cheered up when they saw their inheritance!


Some Adverbs for Describing a State of Sadness

(e.g. terribly glum; overwhelmingly despondent; incredibly pessimistic)



You look terribly sad. Is there anything I can do to help?

The man seemed immeasurably distraught. It took a while to console him.

She was understandably upset when she crashed the car. She needed it to keep her business going.

She wore an incredibly morose expression.

The man is insufferably pessimistic. It’s hard to stay positive around him.

You look woefully miserable. Cheer up!


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