bleak

[16] Bleak originally meant ‘pale’, and comes ultimately from an Indo-European base *bhleg-, possible source of black and a variant of *phleg-, which produced Greek phlégein ‘burn’ and Latin flagrāre ‘burn’ (whence English conflagration and flagrant; flame, fulminate, and refulgent are also closely related). From *bhlegcame the prehistoric Germanic adjective *blaikos ‘white’, from which Old English got blāc ‘pale’ (the sense relationship, as with the possibly related blaze, is between ‘burning’, ‘shining brightly’, ‘white’, and ‘pale’). This survived until the 15th century in southern English dialects as bloke, and until the 16th century in the North as blake. Its disappearance was no doubt hastened by its resemblance to black, both formally and semantically, since both ‘pale’ and ‘dark’ carry implications of colourlessness. Blake did however persist in Northern dialects until modern times in the sense ‘yellow’. Meanwhile, around the middle of the 16th century bleak had begun to put in an appearance, borrowed from a close relative of bloke/blake, Old Norse bleikr ‘shining, white’. bleed 64 The modern sense ‘bare’ is recorded from very early on. A derivative of the Germanic base *blaikwas the verb *blaikjōn, source of Old English blǣcan ‘whiten’, the ancestor of modern English bleach (which may be related to blight). And a nasalized version of the stem may have produced blink [14]. => BLEACH, BLIGHT, BLINK, CONFLAGRATION, FLAGRANT, FLAME, FULMINATE

The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins. 2013.

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  • bleak — [ blik ] adjective * 1. ) without any reasons to feel happy or hopeful: Things look very bleak for the team. Textile workers face a bleak future. paint a bleak picture (=say that the situation is not hopeful): The survey paints a bleak picture of …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • Bleak — (bl[=e]k), a. [OE. blac, bleyke, bleche, AS. bl[=a]c, bl[=ae]c, pale, wan; akin to Icel. bleikr, Sw. blek, Dan. bleg, OS. bl[=e]k, D. bleek, OHG. pleih, G. bleich; all from the root of AS. bl[=i]can to shine; akin to OHG. bl[=i]chen to shine; cf …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Bleak — may refer to:* a kind of fish ** Common Bleak ** Danube Bleak ** Italian Bleak * Bleak (band) * David B. Bleakee also* Bleek …   Wikipedia

  • bleak — [bli:k] adj [Date: 1300 1400; : Old Norse; Origin: bleikr pale, white ] 1.) without anything to make you feel happy or hopeful a bleak future/prospect ▪ The company still hopes to find a buyer, but the future looks bleak . 2.) cold and without… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Bleak — Bleak, n. [From {Bleak}, a., cf. {Blay}.] (Zo[ o]l.) A small European river fish ({Leuciscus alburnus}), of the family Cyprinid[ae]; the blay. [Written also {blick}.] [1913 Webster] Note: The silvery pigment lining the scales of the bleak is used …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • bleak — UK US /bliːk/ adjective ► not giving much hope for the future: »Their long term prospects appear bleak. »In a bleak assessment of the coming months, they said market conditions were almost certain to remain challenging …   Financial and business terms

  • bleak — bleak·ly; bleak·ness; bleak; …   English syllables

  • bleak — bleak1 [blēk] adj. [ME bleik < ON bleikr, pale: see BLEACH] 1. exposed to wind and cold; unsheltered; treeless; bare 2. cold and cutting; harsh 3. not cheerful; gloomy; dreary 4. not promising or hopeful [a bleak future] …   English World dictionary

  • bleak — (adj.) c.1300, pale, from O.N. bleikr pale, whitish, blond, from P.Gmc. *blaika shining, white, from PIE root *bhel (1) to shine, flash, burn (see BLEACH (Cf. bleach) (v.)). Later bare, windswept (1530s). Sense of cheerless is c.1719 figurative… …   Etymology dictionary

  • bleak — [adj1] barren austere, bare, blank, blighted, bombed, bulldozed, burned, chilly, cleared, cold, deforested, desert, deserted, desolate, dreary, exposed, flat, gaunt, grim, open, raw, scorched, stripped, unpopulated, unsheltered, weather beaten,… …   New thesaurus

  • bleak — I (exposed and barren) adjective bare, barren, blank, cold, deserted, desolate, exposed, unpopulated, unsheltered, waste II (not favorable) adjective dark, depressing, disheartening, dismal, distressing, forbidding, gloomy, grave, grim,… …   Law dictionary

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