This is a list of words that come from the root "mal" or "male". Dismal definition, causing gloom or dejection; gloomy; dreary; cheerless; melancholy: dismal weather. It can be explained by the origin, where mal- comes from Latin root male which means ‘badly’, and a mnemonic you can use to remember it is that males are bad, just kidding we are not against the male species. Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools. Relating to birth 2. “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Middle English