Definition of sorry in US English:

sorry

adjective

  • 1predicative Feeling distress, especially through sympathy with someone else's misfortune.

    ‘I was sorry to hear about what happened to your family’
    • ‘Won said he felt " enormous sorrow " and wanted to tell the families how sorry he was.’
    • ‘I am sorry to hear about your best friend.’
    • ‘I am sorry that you and your family are experiencing such distress.’
    • ‘Dear Fred, I am sorry to hear that your music lounge has not been making much money lately, despite your attempts at introducing creative ideas.’
    • ‘I knew I probably should have gone downstairs but in all honesty, I didn't feel like getting up and having people tell me how sorry they were and how their sympathies were with me.’
    • ‘We are very sorry that Mrs Collins has experienced distress, and we are still waiting to establish the facts.’
    • ‘‘I'm really sorry,’ he says sympathetically, putting a hand on my shoulder.’
    • ‘I'm sorry to hear about your economic situation.’
    • ‘All he said was that he was sorry and he could not detect a heartbeat for the baby and that the baby was no longer alive.’
    • ‘Aille tried to look sorry but failed miserably.’
    • ‘‘I was sorry to hear about her,’ he said sympathetically and I smiled in thanks.’
    • ‘A council spokesman said: ‘We were very sorry to hear a child has been injured and the matter will be thoroughly investigated.’’
    • ‘I am sorry to hear of your distress, but I assure you that this is not an uncommon problem.’
    • ‘‘Anytime, I'm sorry this had to happen to you’ he said sympathetically.’
    • ‘I am sure they tell you how sorry they are, murmur sweet words of sorrow, and urge you to stay because you should consider the ‘greater good of the church.’’
    • ‘I'm sorry to hear of your distressing experience, but the driver did the right thing.’
    • ‘Well, I'm so sorry to hear that, because I think that that can happen.’
    • ‘One juror identified as Roy said a lot of people want you to have sympathy for her and feel sorry.’
    • ‘I'm so sorry that you're miserable, I would help, but my situation isn't much better.’
    • ‘I also wanted to hear him say to me how sorry he was.’
    sad, unhappy, sorrowful, distressed, upset, depressed, downcast, miserable, downhearted, disheartened, dejected, down, despondent, despairing, disconsolate, broken-hearted, heartbroken, inconsolable, grief-stricken
    full of pity, sympathetic, pitying, compassionate, moved, commiserative, consoling, empathetic, caring, concerned, understanding
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1sorry for Filled with compassion for.
      ‘he couldn't help feeling sorry for her when he heard how she'd been treated’
      • ‘I'm so far past protecting, I don't even have a soul, I feel so sorry for him.’
      • ‘But there is no need to feel sorry for the government if its good crime figures are unknown.’
      • ‘He should, in fact, feel sorry for them as they are, on the whole, a guilt-ridden lot.’
      • ‘Adjacent is a little caravan site, and this is the only time I have ever felt sorry for caravaners.’
      • ‘Sure, Lewis is a bit narky during the interview, but I come away feeling quite sorry for her.’
      • ‘Yes, we felt sorry for those figures huddled in shop doorways, particularly on an icy night.’
      • ‘In years gone by, I'd have felt a tiny bit sorry for them, but now the sight was verging on painful.’
      • ‘I find it close to impossible to feel sorry for a politician who finds his or her career crashing in ruins.’
      • ‘I feel sorry for them, really sorry, but reflexively pick up my pace, and head for the even naughtier Underground.’
      • ‘One should really feel sorry for people whose egos are so weak as to need propping up in that way.’
      • ‘I feel sorry for their staff who now have to commute a lot further or worse still look for new employment.’
      • ‘Every morning I lay in bed, heard them row at breakfast and felt sorry for them.’
      • ‘I nearly felt sorry for him, but not nearly as sorry as I felt for myself.’
      • ‘The instructors are first-class and I feel so sorry for them to have seen this happen.’
      • ‘I wish my band could open for them, because I actually feel sorry for the audience.’
      • ‘I just feel really sorry for her because her life's never going to be the same.’
      • ‘But I actually felt sorry for it and gave it a final squish to make sure it was dead.’
      • ‘The butler stepped out of her way, feeling sorry for her.’
      • ‘He was ignorant, and obnoxious, but you still couldn't help but feel sorry for him.’
      • ‘Perhaps I just feel sorry for those whose slightly moth-eaten faces do not fit any more.’
  • 2Feeling regret or penitence.

    ‘he said he was sorry he had upset me’
    ‘I'm sorry if I was a bit brusque’
    • ‘Bob hangs his head and acts like he's sheepish and sorry, but he's entered into a world, within himself, from which he will not emerge.’
    • ‘‘I am sorry for Mrs McCabe and I'm sorry her husband was killed - we have no argument with her,’ Mr Adams added.’
    • ‘I was sorry for making him leave, I was sorry for not being able to save him, I was so sorry.’
    • ‘‘I'm sorry, I'm sorry,’ he repeated, finally coming to a stop in front of her, catching his breath.’
    • ‘I looked at him, sorry, upset, and afraid at the same time.’
    • ‘The defendant was ashamed, sorry and had written the victim a letter of apology.’
    • ‘I'm sorry for being so damned insensitive in the first place, and I'm sorry about the whole Steve thing.’
    • ‘And then all at once she felt guilty for him, sorry that her timing had been wrong.’
    • ‘I'm so sorry for calling so late, and I'm really terribly sorry about at school to day.’
    • ‘Nasheen said: ‘He just stood there and said he felt really guilty and was so sorry.’’
    • ‘He knew he was supposed to be feeling suitably contrite and sorry, but there was nothing.’
    • ‘Let your friends know you are genuinely sorry and that you understand why they're peeved.’
    • ‘They are sorry for the inconvenience to customers, but not that sorry.’
    • ‘He pulled away some, and looked away, almost ashamed and sorry he had kissed me.’
    • ‘I could never be sorry for chasing Genevieve - I would be sorry only for hurting Julian.’
    • ‘‘Then say you're sorry,’ I requested, unfolding my arms, getting ready to go back in the house once he apologized.’
    • ‘Ramadhar said he was sorry she failed to understand what he was trying to say, but asked her to note his concern.’
    • ‘And I'm really sorry for using you as a distraction and I'm sorry if I've hurt you.’
    • ‘I've got to make Anna understand that I'm sorry!’
    regretful, remorseful, contrite, repentant, rueful, penitent, conscience-stricken, apologetic, abject, guilty, guilt-ridden, self-reproachful, bad, ashamed, shamefaced, sheepish, in sackcloth and ashes, afraid
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 Used as an expression of apology.
      ‘sorry—I was trying not to make a noise’
      • ‘For all those people who think I'm a complete idiot for not noticing, sorry!’
      • ‘I made this chapter a bit shorter than the others, sorry!’
      • ‘Not sure what the last part means either - sorry!’
      • ‘I'll be back each weekend, so should be able to update the story then, but don't really see a high possibility in updating more often than that… sorry!’
      • ‘You English-speaking lot are at a disadvantage here, sorry!’
      • ‘I type fast, and I don't bother to correct until the end… and I use spell check, so, sorry!’
      • ‘I think you might have to hold off on Mark for a while… sorry!’
      • ‘I haven't been able to read Trial by Fire lately, sorry!’
      • ‘I'm going to stay with my grandparents tomorrow, so no updates over the weekend, sorry!’
      • ‘And I lost his answer, sorry!’
      • ‘Bye the way, I might not have the next one up for a while because I'm going away for Easter, sorry!’
      • ‘Sorry if it still doesn't make sense but it does to me, sorry!’
      • ‘At the same time, the delivery of fresh water has been stepped up: 78,000 gallons of water and fuel - sorry, fuel has been delivered to hospitals.’
      • ‘I may post more later, if I can sort out my thoughts better (my brain is slush at the moment, sorry!)’
      • ‘But if pre-Christians come expecting God - sorry!’
      • ‘Excuse me, sorry, excuse me, sorry, pardon!’
      • ‘Another reader (I lost his name, sorry!) has reduced retrophrenology to understandable terms.’
      • ‘I don't know why Freya got sick, I never really thought that through, sorry!’
      • ‘Great, I was writing my post at the same time as Illmatic, sorry if I repeated anything.’
      • ‘Once again I haven't got enough time to do personal responses, sorry!’
    2. 2.2 Used as a polite request that someone should repeat something that one has failed to hear or understand.
      ‘Sorry? In case I what?’
      • ‘So sorry, just to understand your question, if an ET1 is received, what would we like to be doing immediately?’
      what did you say, what, eh, i beg your pardon, beg pardon, excuse me, say again
      View synonyms
  • 3attributive In a poor or pitiful state or condition.

    ‘he looks a sorry sight with his broken jaw’
    • ‘A neglected garden is a sorry sight and a poor producer.’
    • ‘Without the ability to swim and stamina, a Water Polo player is a sorry sight.’
    • ‘It's a sorry sight though, when the expense accounts have soaked up a couple of pints from the bar.’
    • ‘She whetted a rag and wiped the floor as I dumped the sorry sight into the wastebasket.’
    • ‘When a Times of Zambia crew visited him in Chibolya, the musician was a sorry sight.’
    • ‘You've proved that your a bunch of sorry pitiful bastards.’
    • ‘Laughing so hard that tears ran down his face, Ranear of Tusheba was a sorry sight.’
    • ‘They went home 90 minutes later a real sorry sight after this mauling by Guiseley.’
    • ‘Pity instead the poor public, those sorry souls into whose lives the media machine has pumped a decade's worth of pouting.’
    • ‘Most soldiers they met were a sorry sight, injured, half-starving and desperate to surrender.’
    • ‘Time and again one is treated to a sorry sight of a body exhumed by thieves at night and clothes stolen from the dead.’
    • ‘The officer - now but a poor, sorry soul mourning for Christmas - could scarcely contain his unhappiness.’
    • ‘It's a sorry sight to see two stunted propshafts, encrusted with marine growth, but he films the severed ends anyway.’
    • ‘It was a sorry sight indeed, made no better by the arrival of the hospital, which was by far the largest building in Wickensville.’
    • ‘What a sorry sight he was, coming down to the House tonight - and he was one of two.’
    • ‘He let his eyes take in the sorry sight of the man and felt his anger recede a little.’
    • ‘Elvis was a sorry sight: ruff bloodied and his resplendent tail replaced with a graceless pink knob.’
    • ‘Its ground floor is boarded up and many windows are broken, making it a sorry sight.’
    • ‘The unhappy faces were a sorry sight; several of the boys were taken aback when she smiled.’
    • ‘She was a sorry sight, starving, dirty, smelled terrible, skinny, and her hair all matted down.’
    pitiful, pitiable, heart-rending, distressing
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1 Unpleasant and regrettable, especially on account of incompetence or misbehavior.
      ‘we feel so ashamed that we keep quiet about the whole sorry business’
      • ‘An account of the sorry saga appeared in a Think Secret scoop last week.’
      • ‘Update: that was just me moaning because my bank account was in a sorry state.’
      • ‘The entire, sorry saga of managerial incompetence stems from that single decision.’
      • ‘I have had not only the benefit of a fuller account of the sorry forensic history than was put before him but also the luxury of far greater time for consideration than was available to him.’
      • ‘They surmise that we need new blood from outside the industry in order to add energy and vitality to the sorry state of the business.’
      • ‘It is an account of the whole sorry saga of the privatisation/fragmentation of Britain's railway.’
      • ‘He said: ‘It is a very sorry and messy business and there has been much misrepresentation.’’
      • ‘You want to talk, you want to talk about sorry business?’
      • ‘But today, after three weeks of sorry business, the mourning for his little brother will come to an end, and his spirit will go back to the possum dreaming in a hill near Yuendumu.’
      • ‘Schools only play one role, however vital in this whole sorry business.’
      • ‘One can but hope that the council will learn lessons from this whole sorry business.’
      • ‘The only kink in his plan was that he far preferred to sermonize on what he saw as the sorry state of business leadership.’
      • ‘Among the small businesses in sorry shape because of Jamaica's trade policy are the island's banana farms.’
      • ‘The whole sorry business makes her think of this Canetti quote.’
      • ‘Talking of the Queen, she's had to put a brave face on the whole sorry business, of course.’
      • ‘Actually, the execs he hears from concur, and they're glad he had the nerve to condemn the sorry state of business leadership.’
      • ‘There then follows the sorry account, previously reported in these sports pages, of an Italian sausage and a brutal beating from a Pittsburgh Pirate.’
      • ‘Three thoughts occurred to me while I read this news account of the whole sorry mess.’
      • ‘Add to these charges the negligence and incompetence shown throughout this sorry affair.’
      • ‘What's truly regrettable is the sorry fact that the North does not understand what has really caused this deadlock.’

Phrases

  • be sorry to say

    • Used to express disappointment or regret.

      ‘I'm sorry to say that I don't have alternative contact details’
      • ‘I am sorry to say that I witnessed the decline in funding.’
      • ‘"I am sorry to say that we have made an error in the elections office," she said.’
      • ‘I am sorry to say that I think he has been had on that one.’
      • ‘I'm sorry to say but today was your last show.’
      • ‘I disagree with Barbara, I'm sorry to say, because I really like and respect her.’
  • sorry for oneself

    • Sad and self-pitying.

      • ‘If things don't work out the way you intended, there's no point feeling sorry for yourself; you get up, dust yourself down and get on with it.’
      • ‘If you don't feel sorry for yourself in this world, who the hell will?’
      • ‘That makes him a great person to access when you're feeling sorry for yourself because you've lost your cell phone.’
      • ‘As I once observed: ‘There's a real difference between feeling sorry for yourself and feeling your sorrow.’’
      • ‘I admit I did get depressed about it all but you cannot go through life feeling sorry for yourself so I am now concentrating on getting well so I can do more work for Charlotte's appeal.’
      • ‘It's easy to feel sorry for yourself, that's the easy option and it's not one that I've ever chosen.’
      • ‘The worst thing you can do at this stage is start feeling sorry for yourself, tell yourself you're feeling tired.’
      • ‘The way I look at it, if you have a disability, then you can either lie in bed and feel sorry for yourself, or you get up and get on with it.’
      • ‘He waited for her, feeling sorry for himself and miserable with his own thoughts about how he had mistrusted her.’
      • ‘I don't want to see tears, stop feeling sorry for yourself.’
      sad, unhappy, miserable, dejected, disconsolate, forlorn, crestfallen, sorry for oneself, hangdog, abject, downcast, glum, gloomy, doleful, downhearted, despondent, melancholy, sorrowful, mournful, woeful, lugubrious, long-faced, depressed, despairing, desolate, wretched
      View synonyms
  • sorry (I'm) not sorry

    • informal Used to express a lack of regret or repentance.

      ‘I'm not a fan of the song, sorry not sorry’
      • ‘If my work is misinterpreted because it's not a sappy tearjerker, sorry I'm not sorry.’
      • ‘I'm not too sure about the variety of sodas, and I don't care to know either—sorry not sorry!’
      • ‘When he earnestly expresses his gratitude at an awards show, and basically says "Sorry not sorry for being part of the problem" it just looks tone deaf.’
      • ‘Sorry not sorry for the spoiler.’
      • ‘I have an entire album devoted to my cat (sorry I'm not sorry).’
      • ‘While many of the tracks end up sounding the same (sorry not sorry) it's the stories that blow me away.’
      • ‘We've compared her to Mariah Carey before and sorry I'm not sorry if you disagree, because we're sticking to that diagnosis.’
      • ‘Sorry not sorry to keep harping on it, but aside from the wrestling, it's the only memorable part of his performance.’
      • ‘Sorry not sorry but your customer service sucks.’
      • ‘When the timer goes off, it's over, dude (sorry not sorry).’
      • ‘If she won't be on the show anymore, I'm so gonna quit watching the show. Sorry not sorry.’

Origin

Old English sārig ‘pained, distressed’, of West Germanic origin, from the base of the noun sore. The shortening of the root vowel has given the word an apparent connection with the unrelated sorrow.

Pronunciation