Definition of sorry in 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’
    • ‘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.’’
    • ‘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 sorry to hear of your distressing experience, but the driver did the right thing.’
    • ‘‘I was sorry to hear about her,’ he said sympathetically and I smiled in thanks.’
    • ‘I am sorry that you and your family are experiencing such distress.’
    • ‘I am sorry to hear of your distress, but I assure you that this is not an uncommon problem.’
    • ‘We are very sorry that Mrs Collins has experienced distress, and we are still waiting to establish the facts.’
    • ‘Aille tried to look sorry but failed miserably.’
    • ‘I'm sorry to hear about your economic situation.’
    • ‘I am sorry to hear about your best friend.’
    • ‘I also wanted to hear him say to me how sorry he was.’
    • ‘A council spokesman said: ‘We were very sorry to hear a child has been injured and the matter will be thoroughly investigated.’’
    • ‘One juror identified as Roy said a lot of people want you to have sympathy for her and feel sorry.’
    • ‘Well, I'm so sorry to hear that, because I think that that can happen.’
    • ‘‘Anytime, I'm sorry this had to happen to you’ he said sympathetically.’
    • ‘I'm so sorry that you're miserable, I would help, but my situation isn't much better.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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'm really sorry,’ he says sympathetically, putting a hand on my shoulder.’
    • ‘Won said he felt " enormous sorrow " and wanted to tell the families 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’
      • ‘But I actually felt sorry for it and gave it a final squish to make sure it was dead.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I feel sorry for their staff who now have to commute a lot further or worse still look for new employment.’
      • ‘Adjacent is a little caravan site, and this is the only time I have ever felt sorry for caravaners.’
      • ‘Every morning I lay in bed, heard them row at breakfast and felt sorry for them.’
      • ‘In years gone by, I'd have felt a tiny bit sorry for them, but now the sight was verging on painful.’
      • ‘The instructors are first-class and I feel so sorry for them to have seen this happen.’
      • ‘Perhaps I just feel sorry for those whose slightly moth-eaten faces do not fit any more.’
      • ‘I nearly felt sorry for him, but not nearly as sorry as I felt for myself.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But there is no need to feel sorry for the government if its good crime figures are unknown.’
      • ‘I'm so far past protecting, I don't even have a soul, I feel so sorry for him.’
      • ‘I wish my band could open for them, because I actually feel sorry for the audience.’
      • ‘Yes, we felt sorry for those figures huddled in shop doorways, particularly on an icy night.’
      • ‘I just feel really sorry for her because her life's never going to be the same.’
      • ‘I find it close to impossible to feel sorry for a politician who finds his or her career crashing in ruins.’
      • ‘He was ignorant, and obnoxious, but you still couldn't help but feel sorry for him.’
      • ‘The butler stepped out of her way, feeling sorry for her.’
  • 2Feeling regret or penitence.

    ‘he said he was sorry he had upset me’
    ‘I'm sorry if I was a bit brusque’
    • ‘I could never be sorry for chasing Genevieve - I would be sorry only for hurting Julian.’
    • ‘They are sorry for the inconvenience to customers, but not that sorry.’
    • ‘The defendant was ashamed, sorry and had written the victim a letter of apology.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He knew he was supposed to be feeling suitably contrite and sorry, but there was nothing.’
    • ‘I've got to make Anna understand that I'm sorry!’
    • ‘I'm sorry for being so damned insensitive in the first place, and I'm sorry about the whole Steve thing.’
    • ‘Let your friends know you are genuinely sorry and that you understand why they're peeved.’
    • ‘I'm so sorry for calling so late, and I'm really terribly sorry about at school to day.’
    • ‘And then all at once she felt guilty for him, sorry that her timing had been wrong.’
    • ‘‘Then say you're sorry,’ I requested, unfolding my arms, getting ready to go back in the house once he apologized.’
    • ‘He pulled away some, and looked away, almost ashamed and sorry he had kissed me.’
    • ‘Nasheen said: ‘He just stood there and said he felt really guilty and was so sorry.’’
    • ‘I was sorry for making him leave, I was sorry for not being able to save him, I was so sorry.’
    • ‘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 looked at him, sorry, upset, and afraid at the same time.’
    • ‘‘I'm sorry, I'm sorry,’ he repeated, finally coming to a stop in front of her, catching his breath.’
    • ‘‘I am sorry for Mrs McCabe and I'm sorry her husband was killed - we have no argument with her,’ Mr Adams added.’
    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’
      • ‘I haven't been able to read Trial by Fire lately, sorry!’
      • ‘I made this chapter a bit shorter than the others, 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!’
      • ‘Not sure what the last part means either - sorry!’
      • ‘And I lost his answer, sorry!’
      • ‘I don't know why Freya got sick, I never really thought that through, 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!’
      • ‘You English-speaking lot are at a disadvantage here, sorry!’
      • ‘Another reader (I lost his name, sorry!) has reduced retrophrenology to understandable terms.’
      • ‘I think you might have to hold off on Mark for a while… sorry!’
      • ‘Once again I haven't got enough time to do personal responses, sorry!’
      • ‘For all those people who think I'm a complete idiot for not noticing, sorry!’
      • ‘Excuse me, sorry, excuse me, sorry, pardon!’
      • ‘But if pre-Christians come expecting God - sorry!’
      • ‘I may post more later, if I can sort out my thoughts better (my brain is slush at the moment, 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.’
      • ‘Great, I was writing my post at the same time as Illmatic, sorry if I repeated anything.’
      • ‘I type fast, and I don't bother to correct until the end… and I use spell check, so, sorry!’
      • ‘I'm going to stay with my grandparents tomorrow, so no updates over the weekend, 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’
    • ‘Without the ability to swim and stamina, a Water Polo player is a sorry sight.’
    • ‘A neglected garden is a sorry sight and a poor producer.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It's a sorry sight though, when the expense accounts have soaked up a couple of pints from the bar.’
    • ‘They went home 90 minutes later a real sorry sight after this mauling by Guiseley.’
    • ‘The unhappy faces were a sorry sight; several of the boys were taken aback when she smiled.’
    • ‘Most soldiers they met were a sorry sight, injured, half-starving and desperate to surrender.’
    • ‘Pity instead the poor public, those sorry souls into whose lives the media machine has pumped a decade's worth of pouting.’
    • ‘Elvis was a sorry sight: ruff bloodied and his resplendent tail replaced with a graceless pink knob.’
    • ‘She was a sorry sight, starving, dirty, smelled terrible, skinny, and her hair all matted down.’
    • ‘Its ground floor is boarded up and many windows are broken, making it a sorry sight.’
    • ‘Time and again one is treated to a sorry sight of a body exhumed by thieves at night and clothes stolen from the dead.’
    • ‘He let his eyes take in the sorry sight of the man and felt his anger recede a little.’
    • ‘It's a sorry sight to see two stunted propshafts, encrusted with marine growth, but he films the severed ends anyway.’
    • ‘What a sorry sight he was, coming down to the House tonight - and he was one of two.’
    • ‘The officer - now but a poor, sorry soul mourning for Christmas - could scarcely contain his unhappiness.’
    • ‘It was a sorry sight indeed, made no better by the arrival of the hospital, which was by far the largest building in Wickensville.’
    • ‘Laughing so hard that tears ran down his face, Ranear of Tusheba was a sorry sight.’
    pitiful, pitiable, heart-rending, distressing
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    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’
      • ‘Talking of the Queen, she's had to put a brave face on the whole sorry business, of course.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Update: that was just me moaning because my bank account was in a sorry state.’
      • ‘Actually, the execs he hears from concur, and they're glad he had the nerve to condemn the sorry state of business leadership.’
      • ‘An account of the sorry saga appeared in a Think Secret scoop last week.’
      • ‘Schools only play one role, however vital in 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It is an account of the whole sorry saga of the privatisation/fragmentation of Britain's railway.’
      • ‘What's truly regrettable is the sorry fact that the North does not understand what has really caused this deadlock.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Three thoughts occurred to me while I read this news account of the whole sorry mess.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘You want to talk, you want to talk about sorry business?’
      • ‘The entire, sorry saga of managerial incompetence stems from that single decision.’
      • ‘Among the small businesses in sorry shape because of Jamaica's trade policy are the island's banana farms.’
      • ‘There then follows the sorry account, previously reported in these sports pages, of an Italian sausage and a brutal beating from a Pittsburgh Pirate.’

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'm sorry to say but today was your last show.’
      • ‘I am sorry to say that I think he has been had on that one.’
      • ‘I disagree with Barbara, I'm sorry to say, because I really like and respect her.’
  • sorry for oneself

    • Sad and self-pitying.

      • ‘It's easy to feel sorry for yourself, that's the easy option and it's not one that I've ever chosen.’
      • ‘If you don't feel sorry for yourself in this world, who the hell will?’
      • ‘I don't want to see tears, stop feeling sorry for yourself.’
      • ‘The worst thing you can do at this stage is start feeling sorry for yourself, tell yourself you're feeling tired.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘That makes him a great person to access when you're feeling sorry for yourself because you've lost your cell phone.’
      • ‘He waited for her, feeling sorry for himself and miserable with his own thoughts about how he had mistrusted her.’
      • ‘As I once observed: ‘There's a real difference between feeling sorry for yourself and feeling your sorrow.’’
      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’
      • ‘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 but your customer service sucks.’
      • ‘While many of the tracks end up sounding the same (sorry not sorry) it's the stories that blow me away.’
      • ‘I'm not too sure about the variety of sodas, and I don't care to know either—sorry not sorry!’
      • ‘Sorry not sorry for the spoiler.’
      • ‘I have an entire album devoted to my cat (sorry I'm not sorry).’
      • ‘When the timer goes off, it's over, dude (sorry not sorry).’
      • ‘Sorry not sorry to keep harping on it, but aside from the wrestling, it's the only memorable part of his performance.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If she won't be on the show anymore, I'm so gonna quit watching the show. Sorry not sorry.’
      • ‘If my work is misinterpreted because it's not a sappy tearjerker, sorry I'm 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