1. Grief; sorrow; misery; heavy calamity. "Thus saying, from her side the fatal key, Sad instrument of all our woe, she took." (Milton) "[They] weep each other's woe." (Pope)

2. A curse; a malediction. "Can there be a woe or curse in all the stores of vengeance equal to the malignity of such a practice?" (South)

Woe is used in denunciation, and in exclamations of sorrow. " Woe is me! for I am undone." "O! woe were us alive [i.e, in life]" (Chaucer) "Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker!" (Isa. Xlv. 9) Woe worth, Woe be to. See Worth, "Woe worth the chase, woe worth the day, That costs thy life, my gallant gray!" (Sir W. Scott)

Alternative forms: wo.

Origin: OE. Wo, wa, woo, AS. Wa, interj.; akin to D. Wee, OS. & OHG. We, G. Weh, Icel. Vei, Dan. Vee, Sw. Ve, Goth. Wai; cf. L. Vae, Gr. Cf. Wail.

(01 Mar 1998)

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