Definition of regret in US English:



[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’
    • ‘She shook her head angrily, immediately regretting it.’
    • ‘I slammed the door behind me, immediately regretting it, for I could hear Brendan's heavy footsteps as he ran off to tell Mom.’
    • ‘She took one last look at me and regretted it immediately.’
    • ‘Nikki looked confused, but a light made her eyes flash and I immediately regretted my choice of words.’
    • ‘The boy looked taken back and immediately she regretted her words.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She stood quickly, regretting it immediately.’
    • ‘The timid first-year student who confines him/herself to campus always regrets it later.’
    • ‘He saw the woman flinch and immediately regretted his tone.’
    • ‘Maureen's cheeks were tinted red, and I immediately regretted my words.’
    • ‘Rachel hid her amused smirk behind her mug, immediately regretting the leaving of her fan in the carriage.’
    • ‘Furious, she slammed her fist against a near redstone wall, and immediately regretted it.’
    • ‘I groaned and threw my head to the side, regretting it immediately after.’
    • ‘I gulped, immediately regretting my decision but I was afraid to tell Mrs. Beckett that I changed my mind so quickly.’
    • ‘He shut his eyes immediately, probably regretting the words he had just uttered.’
    • ‘I regretted the words immediately, knowing that they'd carried an inference of sourness, and guessing that she'd notice.’
    • ‘‘I always come here when I want to be alone,’ I said, immediately regretting my words.’
    • ‘I went cold right to the bone and immediately regretted my feelings and words.’
    • ‘He rolled over and opened his eyes, immediately regretting it.’
    • ‘I wearily picked it up, immediately regretting it.’
    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’
      • ‘The Echo deeply regrets the error and sincerely apologises to voters and candidates.’
      • ‘Paul Lewis regrets he cannot respond individually to readers' queries, but he will discuss some of the issues raised in his column.’
      • ‘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 apologize for any inconvenience.’
      • ‘We regret the error and extend our apologies to Aaron Ruell and Pablo Ferro.’
      • ‘We apologize for this error and deeply regret any inconvenience it may have caused to readers of the journal.’
      • ‘We regret if readers inferred from reading the column that rental units were being converted to condos.’
      • ‘We regret this implication and apologise to NCB for any distress caused.’
      • ‘We regret the errors in our reporting and apologize to the owners, employees and customers of Stickley Furniture.’
      • ‘We regret the confusion we caused some readers with our stories on metabolism and food.’
    2. 1.2archaic Feel sorrow for the loss or absence of (something pleasant)
      ‘my home, when shall I cease to regret you!’


  • 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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He expressed his regret to the families and people who had lost their jobs and said it was a huge loss to the economy.’
    • ‘Her lament does not express regret for a breach of fidelity, but rather the deep sadness of the final farewell.’
    • ‘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 girl had had a nervous breakdown, she added, expressing shame and regret at her adolescent cowardice.’
    • ‘The meetings are bittersweet, weighed down by regret, guilt and grief.’
    • ‘They took a bow, and then Brandon stepped away from Kitty, much to her regret.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Stephanie injected the agent carefully with the serum, pretending to put on a look of disappointment and regret on her face.’
    • ‘Did he ever express regret about not having gone back to recording sooner?’
    • ‘Contacted yesterday, Mr Taylor expressed no regret for the monies lost by his clients by investing in his companies.’
    • ‘The motive was obviously to express regret abut the predicament, and there it is.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The mothers expressed sadness and regret when there was no father-child relationship.’
    • ‘It's hoped that it will reduce feelings of regret, remorse and guilt, which are all core to the experience of Post Traumatic Stress.’
    • ‘Letting go of her hand much to her regret, he opened the door and walked in.’
    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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Bill commanded great regard throughout the community and news of his passing was received with much regret and sadness.’
      • ‘My dear brothers and sisters, I have chosen to appear before you to offer my deepest regrets and unqualified apologies to a traumatized nation.’
      • ‘The authors would like to express regret in the inadvertent omission of these acknowledgements.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Friends learned of Patricia's death with much regret and sadness.’
      • ‘News of Peter's passing was received with much sadness and genuine regret throughout the district.’
      • ‘The Daily Bugle expresses its regret and resolves to do better in the future.’
      • ‘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.’
      apology, apologies, expression of regret
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Late Middle English: from Old French regreter ‘bewail (the dead)’, perhaps from the Germanic base of greet.