Misery Loves Company: Definition, Meaning And Origin

Last Updated on
June 14, 2023

The proverb "misery loves company" suggests that unhappy people often seek out other unhappy people to share their distress. In other words, the miserable find solace in knowing others feel the same.

In short:

"Misery loves company" suggests that people who are unhappy tend to seek out others who are in a similar situation.

What Does "Misery Loves Company" Mean?

"Misery loves company" is an idiomatic expression that conveys the idea that unhappy or miserable people often find solace in the company of others who share their feelings or misfortune. The phrase suggests that when someone is going through a difficult time, they may take comfort in knowing that they are not alone or that others are experiencing similar challenges.

Let's delve into its main interpretations:

  • It often reflects the idea that shared pain or trouble can bring comfort or lessen the burden of one's own sorrows.
  • It can sometimes imply a negative notion where a miserable person might derive a perverse sense of satisfaction from seeing others unhappy too.
  • While generally used in informal or colloquial settings, the phrase can be relevant to discussions about empathy, shared human experience, or the dynamics of interpersonal relationships.

Where Does "Misery Loves Company" Come From?

The phrase "misery loves company" is thought to have originated in the 16th century. It is first recorded in the play "The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus" by Christopher Marlowe. In the play, the demon Mephistopheles says, "Solamen miseris socios habuisse doloris" which translates to "It is a comfort to the unfortunate to have had companions in woe." This phrase was later shortened to "misery loves company."

But Marlow isn't the original author of this Latin phrase! It was penned down by a 14th-century Italian historian, Dominick de Gravina. You can find it tucked away in his fascinating work, "Chronicon de rebus in Apulia gestis."

Historical Example

"If misery loves company, misery has company enough."

- The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, 1803

10 Examples of "Misery Loves Company" in Sentences

Here are some examples of the idiom in use:

  • Sometimes talking with a friend who is also feeling down helps - misery loves company, as they say.
  • When the team lost, they all went out for drinks together. It was a clear case of misery loves company.
  • Pro tip: People often gather at support groups because misery loves company.
  • Misery loves company, so when she was feeling low, she called her friend, who was also going through a rough patch.
  • In my experience, the saying misery loves company often holds true.
  • In times of grief or hardship, people often find solace in coming together, showing that misery loves company.
  • That being said, it's essential to understand that misery loves company, and sometimes shared challenges can bring people closer.
  • He didn't like the thought of others being unhappy, but sometimes he felt comforted by the idea that misery loves company.
  • When you feel blue, remember that misery loves company, and it's okay to seek comfort in others.
  • The proverb "misery loves company" can explain why people tend to share their troubles with others.

Examples of "Misery Loves Company" in Pop Culture

The phrase "misery loves company" often appears in pop culture, typically reflecting the idea of shared sorrow or commiseration.

Let's explore some instances:

  • The song "Misery Loves Company" by Mike Ness from his album "Cheating at Solitaire" (1999) discusses the concept of shared sorrow in the context of romantic relationships.
  • "Misery Loves Company" is a song by the Canadian rock band Three Days Grace from their fourth studio album, "Transit of Venus."
  • "Misery Loves Company" is a 2012 dark romantic comedy directed by Peter O'Brien, which explores emotional healing, personal growth, and relationships within a witty romantic comedy framework.

Other/Different Ways to Say "Misery Loves Company"

There are numerous alternative expressions that convey a similar meaning to "misery loves company."

Here are some of them:

  • Shared sorrow
  • Communal distress
  • Collective hardship
  • Common woe
  • Joint misery

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Misery Loves Company":

  • What does "misery loves company" mean?

"Misery loves company" is a phrase that implies people who are unhappy may find comfort in knowing others are also going through similar struggles.

  • How can I use "misery loves company" in a sentence?

You can use "misery loves company" to suggest shared hardship can be comforting. For example, "When we all failed the exam, we ended up hanging out together – a case of misery loves company."

  • Where does the idiom "misery loves company" come from?

Thenidiom traces its roots back to the 14th-century, originally documented by Italian historian Dominick de Gravina in his work "Chronicon de rebus in Apulia gestis."

  • Is "misery loves company" a negative phrase?

Not necessarily. While it can carry negative connotations, it can also reflect empathy, solidarity, and the comfort of shared human experience.

  • Does "misery loves company" suggest schadenfreude?

Not exactly. Rather than taking pleasure in others' misfortunes, "misery loves company" typically implies finding comfort in shared hardships or mutual understanding.

  • Is "misery loves company" used only in serious or somber contexts?

No, while it often appears in more serious discussions, it can also be used humorously or lightheartedly to describe common, everyday disappointments or frustrations.

  • Can "misery loves company" apply to situations beyond personal distress?

Yes, "misery loves company" can extend to broader social, cultural, or even global situations where shared adversity or struggle is experienced.

  • Is it appropriate to use the phrase in professional or academic writing?

"Misery loves company" is a common phrase and can be used in a variety of contexts, including professional and academic writing, provided it fits the tone and purpose of the text.

  • Can "misery loves company" refer to shared joy or success?

No, "misery loves company" specifically refers to the sharing of struggles or negative experiences.

  • Is "misery loves company" a universal concept?

While the expression is English, the concept it conveys - finding comfort in shared struggles - is a universal human experience, recognizable across different cultures and languages.

Final Thoughts About "Misery Loves Company"

The idiom suggests that people who are unhappy or in pain tend to take comfort in knowing they're not alone in their suffering. They may seek out others who are also unhappy or in pain in order to feel less alone. This can be seen in the way that people often bond over shared experiences, such as the loss of a loved one or a difficult diagnosis.

Here's a quick recap:

  • The term suggests that people find comfort in knowing others are also experiencing similar struggles.
  • The expression does not inherently carry negative connotations and can often reflect empathy, solidarity, and the comfort of shared experiences.
  • It can serve as a warning: it's tempting to wallow in our misery when we're feeling down.

The phrase can also be seen as a way of bonding with others. When we share our pain with others, we create a sense of community and understanding.

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