adj. wretch·ed·er, wretch·ed·est
1. In a deplorable state of distress or misfortune; miserable: "the wretched prisoners huddling in the stinking cages" (George Orwell).
2. Characterized by or attended with misery or woe: a wretched life.
3. Of a poor or mean character; dismal: a wretched building.
4. Contemptible; despicable: wretched treatment of the patients.
5. Of very inferior quality: wretched prose.
[Middle English wrecched, from wrecche, wretch; see WRETCH.]
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.