Definition of regret in English:



[with object]
  • 1Feel sad, repentant, or disappointed over (something that one has done or failed to do)

    ‘she immediately regretted her words’
    with clause ‘I always regretted that I never trained’
    • ‘Nikki looked confused, but a light made her eyes flash and I immediately regretted my choice of words.’
    • ‘Rachel hid her amused smirk behind her mug, immediately regretting the leaving of her fan in the carriage.’
    • ‘‘I always come here when I want to be alone,’ I said, immediately regretting my words.’
    • ‘He saw the woman flinch and immediately regretted his tone.’
    • ‘I went cold right to the bone and immediately regretted my feelings and words.’
    • ‘Maureen's cheeks were tinted red, and I immediately regretted my words.’
    • ‘I wearily picked it up, immediately regretting it.’
    • ‘She shook her head angrily, immediately regretting it.’
    • ‘The boy looked taken back and immediately she regretted her words.’
    • ‘Furious, she slammed her fist against a near redstone wall, and immediately regretted it.’
    • ‘She stood quickly, regretting it immediately.’
    • ‘He rolled over and opened his eyes, immediately regretting it.’
    • ‘She took one last look at me and regretted it immediately.’
    • ‘I regretted the words immediately, knowing that they'd carried an inference of sourness, and guessing that she'd notice.’
    • ‘I gulped, immediately regretting my decision but I was afraid to tell Mrs. Beckett that I changed my mind so quickly.’
    • ‘She furrowed her eyebrows and sat up swiftly, immediately regretting it when the room (that she noted as Eden and Eric's) spun before her in a cyclone.’
    • ‘I slammed the door behind me, immediately regretting it, for I could hear Brendan's heavy footsteps as he ran off to tell Mom.’
    • ‘The timid first-year student who confines him/herself to campus always regrets it later.’
    • ‘I groaned and threw my head to the side, regretting it immediately after.’
    • ‘He shut his eyes immediately, probably regretting the words he had just uttered.’
    be sorry about, feel contrite about, feel apologetic about, feel remorse about, feel remorse for, be remorseful about, rue, repent, repent of, feel repentant about, be regretful about, be regretful at, have a conscience about, blame oneself for
    mourn, grieve for, grieve over, feel grief at, weep over, sigh over, fret about, pine over
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    1. 1.1 Used in polite formulas to express apology for or sadness over something undesirable.
      ‘any inconvenience to readers is regretted’
      with clause ‘we regret that no tickets may be exchanged’
      • ‘We regret the confusion we caused some readers with our stories on metabolism and food.’
      • ‘We regret this implication and apologise to NCB for any distress caused.’
      • ‘We apologize for this error and deeply regret any inconvenience it may have caused to readers of the journal.’
      • ‘The Echo deeply regrets the error and sincerely apologises to voters and candidates.’
      • ‘We regret the errors in our reporting and apologize to the owners, employees and customers of Stickley Furniture.’
      • ‘We regret the error and extend our apologies to Aaron Ruell and Pablo Ferro.’
      • ‘We regret if readers inferred from reading the column that rental units were being converted to condos.’
      • ‘Paul Lewis regrets he cannot respond individually to readers' queries, but he will discuss some of the issues raised in his column.’
      • ‘We regret the error and apologize for any inconvenience.’
      • ‘Please send us your gardening problems; we regret that we cannot respond individually to readers, but we will try to answer your queries in this column.’
    2. 1.2archaic Feel sorrow for the loss or absence of (something pleasant)
      ‘my home, when shall I cease to regret you!’


mass noun
  • 1A feeling of sadness, repentance, or disappointment over an occurrence or something that one has done or failed to do.

    ‘she expressed her regret at Virginia's death’
    ‘he had to decline, to his regret’
    • ‘Did he ever express regret about not having gone back to recording sooner?’
    • ‘He expressed his regret to the families and people who had lost their jobs and said it was a huge loss to the economy.’
    • ‘He expresses bitter regret at the lives he has destroyed but admits he will never stop abusing and claims he is always relieved when the police catch up with him.’
    • ‘The motive was obviously to express regret abut the predicament, and there it is.’
    • ‘When she expressed her regret to me later, I told her that had she married him he would have abandoned her as soon as he became a star.’
    • ‘Her lament does not express regret for a breach of fidelity, but rather the deep sadness of the final farewell.’
    • ‘There was regret, guilt, sadness, fear and surprise all mingled together.’
    • ‘The meetings are bittersweet, weighed down by regret, guilt and grief.’
    • ‘Stephanie injected the agent carefully with the serum, pretending to put on a look of disappointment and regret on her face.’
    • ‘She would have expressed little regret had the courts sentenced him to death.’
    • ‘This is serious business, and to express regret at the severity of his punishment is a shade hypocritical.’
    • ‘Contacted yesterday, Mr Taylor expressed no regret for the monies lost by his clients by investing in his companies.’
    • ‘She went on to express regret about handing over the rights to her show.’
    • ‘It does not matter what counsel may think, it is never wise, as many have learnt to their regret, to come without the pleadings.’
    • ‘Later, he expressed his regret over the incident, but Tyra had already come to a decision.’
    • ‘It's hoped that it will reduce feelings of regret, remorse and guilt, which are all core to the experience of Post Traumatic Stress.’
    • ‘The mothers expressed sadness and regret when there was no father-child relationship.’
    • ‘The girl had had a nervous breakdown, she added, expressing shame and regret at her adolescent cowardice.’
    • ‘Letting go of her hand much to her regret, he opened the door and walked in.’
    • ‘They took a bow, and then Brandon stepped away from Kitty, much to her regret.’
    sadness, sorrow, disappointment, dismay, unhappiness, dejection, lamentation, grief, mourning, mournfulness
    remorse, sorrow, contrition, contriteness, repentance, penitence, pangs of conscience, guilt, compunction, remorsefulness, ruefulness, shame, self-reproach, self-accusation, self-condemnation
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1often one's regrets Used in polite formulas to express apology for or sadness at an occurrence or an inability to accept an invitation.
      ‘please give your grandmother my regrets’
      • ‘News of Peter's passing was received with much sadness and genuine regret throughout the district.’
      • ‘It was certainly not our intention to be offensive and we wish to again express our regret to anyone who was displeased by the ad.’
      • ‘Friends learned of Patricia's death with much regret and sadness.’
      • ‘The authors would like to express regret in the inadvertent omission of these acknowledgements.’
      • ‘The Daily Bugle expresses its regret and resolves to do better in the future.’
      • ‘My dear brothers and sisters, I have chosen to appear before you to offer my deepest regrets and unqualified apologies to a traumatized nation.’
      • ‘Paddy was a familiar figure in the local community down through the years and news of his passing was received with regret and sadness by all who knew him.’
      • ‘Bill commanded great regard throughout the community and news of his passing was received with much regret and sadness.’
      • ‘Johnny was a well known and well liked member of the local rural community and friends learned of his passing with sadness and genuine regret.’
      • ‘‘I extend my sincerest apologies and deepest regrets to you, Her Majesty, and Her Highness,’ he said.’
      apology, apologies, expression of regret
      View synonyms


Late Middle English: from Old French regreter ‘bewail (the dead)’, perhaps from the Germanic base of greet.