Definition of regret in US English:


verbregretted, regrets, regretting

[with object]
  • 1Feel sad, repentant, or disappointed over (something that has happened or been done, especially a loss or missed opportunity)

    ‘she immediately regretted her words’
    with clause ‘I regretted that he did not see you’
    • ‘‘I always come here when I want to be alone,’ I said, immediately regretting my words.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I gulped, immediately regretting my decision but I was afraid to tell Mrs. Beckett that I changed my mind so quickly.’
    • ‘Rachel hid her amused smirk behind her mug, immediately regretting the leaving of her fan in the carriage.’
    • ‘I slammed the door behind me, immediately regretting it, for I could hear Brendan's heavy footsteps as he ran off to tell Mom.’
    • ‘He saw the woman flinch and immediately regretted his tone.’
    • ‘She took one last look at me and regretted it immediately.’
    • ‘He rolled over and opened his eyes, immediately regretting it.’
    • ‘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 wearily picked it up, immediately regretting it.’
    • ‘I regretted the words immediately, knowing that they'd carried an inference of sourness, and guessing that she'd notice.’
    • ‘Furious, she slammed her fist against a near redstone wall, and immediately regretted it.’
    • ‘She shook her head angrily, immediately regretting it.’
    • ‘Nikki looked confused, but a light made her eyes flash and I immediately regretted my choice of words.’
    • ‘The timid first-year student who confines him/herself to campus always regrets it later.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The boy looked taken back and immediately she regretted her words.’
    • ‘She stood quickly, regretting it immediately.’
    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 unfortunate or unpleasant.
      ‘any inconvenience to readers is regretted’
      with clause ‘we regret that no tickets may be exchanged’
      • ‘We regret the error and apologize for any inconvenience.’
      • ‘We regret the confusion we caused some readers with our stories on metabolism and food.’
      • ‘We regret the errors in our reporting and apologize to the owners, employees and customers of Stickley Furniture.’
      • ‘We regret if readers inferred from reading the column that rental units were being converted to condos.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We regret the error and extend our apologies to Aaron Ruell and Pablo Ferro.’
      • ‘The Echo deeply regrets the error and sincerely apologises to voters and candidates.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Paul Lewis regrets he cannot respond individually to readers' queries, but he will discuss some of the issues raised in his column.’
    2. 1.2archaic Feel sorrow for the loss or absence of (something pleasant)
      ‘my home, when shall I cease to regret you!’

nounPlural regrets

  • 1A feeling of sadness, repentance, or disappointment over something that has happened or been done.

    ‘she expressed her regret at Virginia's death’
    ‘he had to decline, to his regret’
    • ‘The motive was obviously to express regret abut the predicament, and there it is.’
    • ‘Did he ever express regret about not having gone back to recording sooner?’
    • ‘The meetings are bittersweet, weighed down by regret, guilt and grief.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Letting go of her hand much to her regret, he opened the door and walked in.’
    • ‘She would have expressed little regret had the courts sentenced him to death.’
    • ‘The mothers expressed sadness and regret when there was no father-child relationship.’
    • ‘Her lament does not express regret for a breach of fidelity, but rather the deep sadness of the final farewell.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It's hoped that it will reduce feelings of regret, remorse and guilt, which are all core to the experience of Post Traumatic Stress.’
    • ‘Contacted yesterday, Mr Taylor expressed no regret for the monies lost by his clients by investing in his companies.’
    • ‘Stephanie injected the agent carefully with the serum, pretending to put on a look of disappointment and regret on her face.’
    • ‘It does not matter what counsel may think, it is never wise, as many have learnt to their regret, to come without the pleadings.’
    • ‘They took a bow, and then Brandon stepped away from Kitty, much to her regret.’
    • ‘He expressed his regret to the families and people who had lost their jobs and said it was a huge loss to the economy.’
    • ‘Later, he expressed his regret over the incident, but Tyra had already come to a decision.’
    • ‘There was regret, guilt, sadness, fear and surprise all mingled together.’
    • ‘She went on to express regret about handing over the rights to her show.’
    • ‘The girl had had a nervous breakdown, she added, expressing shame and regret at her adolescent cowardice.’
    • ‘This is serious business, and to express regret at the severity of his punishment is a shade hypocritical.’
    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
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    1. 1.1often regrets An instance or cause of regret.
      ‘she had few regrets in leaving the house’
    2. 1.2often 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’
      • ‘My dear brothers and sisters, I have chosen to appear before you to offer my deepest regrets and unqualified apologies to a traumatized nation.’
      • ‘Bill commanded great regard throughout the community and news of his passing was received with much regret and sadness.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 Daily Bugle expresses its regret and resolves to do better in the future.’
      • ‘News of Peter's passing was received with much sadness and genuine regret throughout the district.’
      • ‘‘I extend my sincerest apologies and deepest regrets to you, Her Majesty, and Her Highness,’ he said.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The authors would like to express regret in the inadvertent omission of these acknowledgements.’
      apology, apologies, expression of regret
      View synonyms


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