Definition of regretfully in English:



  • 1In a regretful manner.

    ‘he sighed regretfully’
    • ‘She sighed, and regretfully disentangled herself from Steve, who looked puzzled.’
    • ‘He sighed, more exhaustedly than regretfully, I thought.’
    • ‘Since then, we have regretfully picked up our beach towels and coolers and headed back to the cosmic parking lot.’
    • ‘Because of this, and the proximity of other Roman Catholic churches to Durrington, the decision was regretfully taken to close the church.’
    • ‘The half hour has passed all too quickly and regretfully we board our boat and return to Freshwater Basin enriched by a unique experience and loaded with photographs to be developed.’
    • ‘The Fiddler's Green Festival Committee has regretfully announced that the Tommy Fleming concert scheduled for Wednesday July 23 has been cancelled.’
    • ‘The days when you could recognise a person's origins by their rich and diverse regional accents are regretfully slipping away.’
    • ‘She sighed regretfully and walked to her assigned desk.’
    • ‘‘Compromise was simply not possible,’ he declared, regretfully.’
    • ‘Michael had let go of my waist, I noticed, regretfully.’
    • ‘A hot-pot is in the oven, which I regretfully turn down because I'd already eaten lunch, however I do accept a cup of tea and a slice of her Christmas cake.’
    • ‘Nicholas sighed regretfully; he hadn't meant to lose his temper like that.’
    • ‘But, as he regretfully learned, his adoptees' public high schools were so bad that many of the kids dropped out, squandering an extraordinary opportunity.’
    • ‘I was there with her at the party, but then stupidly, and very regretfully, I left.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, despite considerable enthusiasm shown towards the initial concept, audience turnout was poor and the plug was regretfully pulled.’
    • ‘My answer to all of these questions is, regretfully, no.’
    • ‘The first of those teams were due to arrive in Sligo yesterday afternoon, but the organisers had to regretfully inform them that the event would not go ahead.’
    • ‘I sighed and regretfully pulled out a small black case that held a pair of glasses.’
    • ‘Sadly, he has not recovered and they regretfully announced his resignation on Monday.’
    • ‘When we finally decided on an enforcement action, having had to very regretfully reach the conclusion that there was no other way, we did it properly.’
    1. 1.1sentence adverb It is regrettable that.
      ‘regretfully, mounting costs forced the branch to close’
      • ‘We had quite a useful meeting but regretfully at that stage the damage had been done.’
      • ‘But regretfully, it is only a short visit for him as he leaves here on Sunday, to catch the plane to Vancouver where he has another showing.’
      • ‘We will try to negotiate with the landowner and if that fails regretfully we may have to apply for a court injunction but this is very much a position of last resort.’
      • ‘The point is that it is not possible, regretfully, in the world in which we live, for us to guarantee anyone's safety, civilian or military.’
      • ‘And, regretfully, it is extremely unlikely that we'll see him emerging from his shower a few months later, complaining about the awful dream he had last night.’
      • ‘But regretfully, we will not be catering to that audience because it's really a niche.’
      • ‘In the end, regretfully, I chose none of them, preferring instead two books I read quite frequently, one for its astonishing use of language and the other for the haunting quietude of its tale.’
      • ‘(I hear that no one is turned away except, regretfully, one quite hefty character in a swirling kilt - but that's another story).’
      • ‘Many of the Ballintubber players will know in their hearts that they did not grasp the opportunity on the day and regretfully experience has shown that such occasions as Intermediate Finals are rare enough.’


The adjectives regretful and regrettable are distinct in meaning: regretful means ‘feeling or showing regret’, as in she shook her head with a regretful smile, while regrettable means ‘giving rise to regret; undesirable’, as in the loss of jobs is regrettable. The adverbs regretfully and regrettably have not, however, preserved the same distinction. Regretfully is used as a normal adverb to mean ‘in a regretful manner’ (he sighed regretfully), but it is also used as a sentence adverb meaning ‘it is regrettable that’ (regretfully, mounting costs forced the branch to close). In this latter use it is synonymous with regrettably. This is disliked by traditionalists and should be avoided in formal contexts