Definition of sorry in English:



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

    ‘I was sorry to hear about what happened to your family’
    • ‘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'm really sorry,’ he says sympathetically, putting a hand on my shoulder.’
    • ‘A council spokesman said: ‘We were very sorry to hear a child has been injured and the matter will be thoroughly investigated.’’
    • ‘I'm sorry to hear about your economic situation.’
    • ‘I'm so sorry that you're miserable, I would help, but my situation isn't much better.’
    • ‘‘I was sorry to hear about her,’ he said sympathetically and I smiled in thanks.’
    • ‘I'm sorry to hear of your distressing experience, but the driver did the right thing.’
    • ‘One juror identified as Roy said a lot of people want you to have sympathy for her and feel sorry.’
    • ‘I am sorry to hear about your best friend.’
    • ‘I also wanted to hear him say to me how sorry he was.’
    • ‘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 am sorry that you and your family are experiencing such distress.’
    • ‘Well, I'm so sorry to hear that, because I think that that can happen.’
    • ‘We are very sorry that Mrs Collins has experienced distress, and we are still waiting to establish the facts.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Won said he felt " enormous sorrow " and wanted to tell the families how sorry he was.’
    • ‘Aille tried to look sorry but failed miserably.’
    • ‘‘Anytime, I'm sorry this had to happen to you’ he said sympathetically.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I am sorry to hear of your distress, but I assure you that this is not an uncommon problem.’
    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. 1.1Filled with compassion for.
      ‘he couldn't help feeling sorry for her when he heard how she'd been treated’
      • ‘I just feel really sorry for her because her life's never going to be the same.’
      • ‘I feel sorry for them, really sorry, but reflexively pick up my pace, and head for the even naughtier Underground.’
      • ‘The butler stepped out of her way, feeling sorry for her.’
      • ‘Yes, we felt sorry for those figures huddled in shop doorways, particularly on an icy night.’
      • ‘Perhaps I just feel sorry for those whose slightly moth-eaten faces do not fit any more.’
      • ‘Adjacent is a little caravan site, and this is the only time I have ever felt sorry for caravaners.’
      • ‘He was ignorant, and obnoxious, but you still couldn't help but feel sorry for him.’
      • ‘Every morning I lay in bed, heard them row at breakfast and felt sorry for them.’
      • ‘I'm so far past protecting, I don't even have a soul, I feel so sorry for him.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He should, in fact, feel sorry for them as they are, on the whole, a guilt-ridden lot.’
      • ‘Sure, Lewis is a bit narky during the interview, but I come away feeling quite sorry for her.’
      • ‘But there is no need to feel sorry for the government if its good crime figures are unknown.’
      • ‘I find it close to impossible to feel sorry for a politician who finds his or her career crashing in ruins.’
      • ‘In years gone by, I'd have felt a tiny bit sorry for them, but now the sight was verging on painful.’
      • ‘I wish my band could open for them, because I actually feel sorry for the audience.’
      • ‘But I actually felt sorry for it and gave it a final squish to make sure it was dead.’
      • ‘The instructors are first-class and I feel so sorry for them to have seen this happen.’
      • ‘I nearly felt sorry for him, but not nearly as sorry as I felt for myself.’
    2. 1.2Feeling regret or penitence.
      ‘he said he was sorry he had upset me’
      ‘I'm sorry if I was a bit brusque’
      • ‘The defendant was ashamed, sorry and had written the victim a letter of apology.’
      • ‘I looked at him, sorry, upset, and afraid at the same time.’
      • ‘I could never be sorry for chasing Genevieve - I would be sorry only for hurting Julian.’
      • ‘‘I'm sorry, I'm sorry,’ he repeated, finally coming to a stop in front of her, catching his breath.’
      • ‘They are sorry for the inconvenience to customers, but not that sorry.’
      • ‘And I'm really sorry for using you as a distraction and I'm sorry if I've hurt you.’
      • ‘I was sorry for making him leave, I was sorry for not being able to save him, I was so sorry.’
      • ‘I'm so sorry for calling so late, and I'm really terribly sorry about at school to day.’
      • ‘He knew he was supposed to be feeling suitably contrite and sorry, but there was nothing.’
      • ‘And then all at once she felt guilty for him, sorry that her timing had been wrong.’
      • ‘He pulled away some, and looked away, almost ashamed and sorry he had kissed me.’
      • ‘Ramadhar said he was sorry she failed to understand what he was trying to say, but asked her to note his concern.’
      • ‘I'm sorry for being so damned insensitive in the first place, and I'm sorry about the whole Steve thing.’
      • ‘I've got to make Anna understand that I'm sorry!’
      • ‘‘Then say you're sorry,’ I requested, unfolding my arms, getting ready to go back in the house once he apologized.’
      • ‘Nasheen said: ‘He just stood there and said he felt really guilty and was so sorry.’’
      • ‘‘I am sorry for Mrs McCabe and I'm sorry her husband was killed - we have no argument with her,’ Mr Adams added.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Let your friends know you are genuinely sorry and that you understand why they're peeved.’
      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
    3. 1.3Used as an expression of apology.
      ‘sorry—I was trying not to make a noise’
      • ‘Once again I haven't got enough time to do personal responses, sorry!’
      • ‘Not sure what the last part means either - sorry!’
      • ‘I may post more later, if I can sort out my thoughts better (my brain is slush at the moment, sorry!)’
      • ‘You English-speaking lot are at a disadvantage here, sorry!’
      • ‘And I lost his answer, sorry!’
      • ‘Sorry if it still doesn't make sense but it does to me, sorry!’
      • ‘I'm going to stay with my grandparents tomorrow, so no updates over the weekend, sorry!’
      • ‘I think you might have to hold off on Mark for a while… 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 made this chapter a bit shorter than the others, sorry!’
      • ‘I type fast, and I don't bother to correct until the end… and I use spell check, so, sorry!’
      • ‘Another reader (I lost his name, sorry!) has reduced retrophrenology to understandable terms.’
      • ‘Great, I was writing my post at the same time as Illmatic, sorry if I repeated anything.’
      • ‘Excuse me, sorry, excuse me, sorry, pardon!’
      • ‘But if pre-Christians come expecting God - sorry!’
      • ‘I haven't been able to read Trial by Fire lately, sorry!’
      • ‘I don't know why Freya got sick, I never really thought that through, sorry!’
      • ‘For all those people who think I'm a complete idiot for not noticing, 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!’
      • ‘Bye the way, I might not have the next one up for a while because I'm going away for Easter, sorry!’
    4. 1.4Used 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?’
  • 2[attributive] In a poor or pitiful state or condition.

    ‘he looks a sorry sight with his broken jaw’
    • ‘The officer - now but a poor, sorry soul mourning for Christmas - could scarcely contain his unhappiness.’
    • ‘Without the ability to swim and stamina, a Water Polo player is a sorry sight.’
    • ‘Pity instead the poor public, those sorry souls into whose lives the media machine has pumped a decade's worth of pouting.’
    • ‘Laughing so hard that tears ran down his face, Ranear of Tusheba was a sorry sight.’
    • ‘She whetted a rag and wiped the floor as I dumped the sorry sight into the wastebasket.’
    • ‘They went home 90 minutes later a real sorry sight after this mauling by Guiseley.’
    • ‘What a sorry sight he was, coming down to the House tonight - and he was one of two.’
    • ‘When a Times of Zambia crew visited him in Chibolya, the musician was a sorry sight.’
    • ‘A neglected garden is a sorry sight and a poor producer.’
    • ‘Its ground floor is boarded up and many windows are broken, making it a sorry sight.’
    • ‘You've proved that your a bunch of sorry pitiful bastards.’
    • ‘It was a sorry sight indeed, made no better by the arrival of the hospital, which was by far the largest building in Wickensville.’
    • ‘Time and again one is treated to a sorry sight of a body exhumed by thieves at night and clothes stolen from the dead.’
    • ‘Most soldiers they met were a sorry sight, injured, half-starving and desperate to surrender.’
    • ‘It's a sorry sight to see two stunted propshafts, encrusted with marine growth, but he films the severed ends anyway.’
    • ‘She was a sorry sight, starving, dirty, smelled terrible, skinny, and her hair all matted down.’
    • ‘The unhappy faces were a sorry sight; several of the boys were taken aback when she smiled.’
    • ‘He let his eyes take in the sorry sight of the man and felt his anger recede a little.’
    • ‘It's a sorry sight though, when the expense accounts have soaked up a couple of pints from the bar.’
    • ‘Elvis was a sorry sight: ruff bloodied and his resplendent tail replaced with a graceless pink knob.’
    pitiful, pitiable, heart-rending, distressing
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1Unpleasant and regrettable, especially on account of incompetence or misbehavior.
      ‘we feel so ashamed that we keep quiet about the whole sorry business’
      • ‘Three thoughts occurred to me while I read this news account of the whole sorry mess.’
      • ‘The only kink in his plan was that he far preferred to sermonize on what he saw as 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.’
      • ‘He said: ‘It is a very sorry and messy business and there has been much misrepresentation.’’
      • ‘Add to these charges the negligence and incompetence shown throughout this sorry affair.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Talking of the Queen, she's had to put a brave face on the whole sorry business, of course.’
      • ‘An account of the sorry saga appeared in a Think Secret scoop last week.’
      • ‘Actually, the execs he hears from concur, and they're glad he had the nerve to condemn the sorry state of business leadership.’
      • ‘It is an account of the whole sorry saga of the privatisation/fragmentation of Britain's railway.’
      • ‘Among the small businesses in sorry shape because of Jamaica's trade policy are the island's banana farms.’
      • ‘Schools only play one role, however vital in this whole sorry business.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘One can but hope that the council will learn lessons from this whole sorry business.’
      • ‘The whole sorry business makes her think of this Canetti quote.’
      • ‘What's truly regrettable is the sorry fact that the North does not understand what has really caused this deadlock.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’


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