General English


  • adjective (A cake or loaf) which is heavy, sunken or has not risen as required


  • adjective unfortunate, unattractive, unexciting. This standard word was appropriated as an all-purpose vogue term of dismissal, disapproval, etc. among adolescents and younger children in the early 1990s, shortly afterwards crossing over into adult speech. (The bouffanted Tory minister Michael Portillo, for instance, was said to have ‘sad hair’.).


  • acronym forseasonal affective disorder
    (written as SAD)

Origin & History of “sad”

Originally, to feel sad was to feel that one had had ‘enough’. For the word comes ultimately from the same Indo-European base that produced English satisfy and saturate. By the time it reached English (via a prehistoric Germanic *sathaz) ‘enough’ had already become extended to ‘weary’, and the modern sense ‘unhappy’ emerged in the 14th century. The original notion of ‘sufficiency’ has now died out in the case of sad, but it survives in the case of sated (17th c.), an alteration (probably under the influence of satiate) of the past participle of an earlier verb sade ‘satiate’, which was derived from sad.