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[fawr-lawrn] /fɔrˈlɔrn/
desolate or dreary; unhappy or miserable, as in feeling, condition, or appearance.
lonely and sad; forsaken.
expressive of hopelessness; despairing:
forlorn glances.
bereft; destitute:
forlorn of comfort.
Origin of forlorn
before 1150; Middle English foreloren (past participle of forlesen to lose completely), Old English forloren (past participle of forlēosan); cognate with Old High German firliosan (German verlieren), Gothic fraliusan. See for-, lorn
Related forms
forlornly, adverb
forlornness, noun
unforlorn, adjective
1. pitiful, pitiable, helpless, woebegone, comfortless. 2. alone, lost, solitary. 4. deprived.
1. happy. 2. accompanied.
Synonym Study
2. See desolate. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for forlornly
Historical Examples
  • It yeas cold and chilly, and they forlornly set out in search of some sort of a conveyance.

  • But by the time we came across them the commandos were forlornly dispersing.

    The Relief of Mafeking Filson Young
  • Then he had strolled off forlornly and in silence toward the garage.

    Frank of Freedom Hill Samuel A. Derieux
  • "Well—I don't know what Jerry will do," sighed Gyp forlornly.

    Highacres Jane Abbott
  • She caught her breath with half a sob, forlornly and as a child might.

    The Professor's Mystery Wells Hastings
  • "It is not me he would have now, but his way," she said forlornly.

    Nicanor - Teller of Tales C. Bryson Taylor
  • Yet how did my heart sink when I reflected upon the mighty breast of sea in which I was forlornly to seek for succour!

    The Frozen Pirate W. Clark Russell
  • "I'm afeared, then, I won't be able to claim that there money," he said forlornly.

    From Place to Place Irvin S. Cobb
  • "It was only because I didn't like myself," said dear Becky forlornly.

    Betty Leicester Sarah Orne Jewett
  • He turned to Jeremy who, poor boy, was utterly and forlornly seasick.

    The Black Buccaneer Stephen W. Meader
British Dictionary definitions for forlornly


miserable, wretched, or cheerless; desolate
deserted; forsaken
(postpositive) foll by of. destitute; bereft: forlorn of hope
desperate: the last forlorn attempt
Derived Forms
forlornly, adverb
forlornness, noun
Word Origin
Old English forloren lost, from forlēosan to lose; related to Old Saxon farliosan, Gothic fraliusan, Greek luein to release
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for forlornly



mid-12c., forloren "disgraced, depraved," past participle of obsolete forlesan "be deprived of, lose, abandon," from Old English forleosan "to lose, abandon, let go; destroy, ruin," from for- "completely" + leosan "to lose" (see lose). In the Mercian hymns, Latin perditionis is glossed by Old English forlorenisse.

Sense of "forsaken, abandoned" is 1530s; that of "wretched, miserable" first recorded 1580s. A common Germanic compound (cf. Old Saxon farilosan, Old Frisian urliasa, Middle Dutch verliesen, Dutch verliezen, Old High German virliosan, German verlieren, Gothic fraliusan "to lose").

Commonly in forlorn hope (1570s), which is a partial translation of Dutch verloren hoop, in which hoop means "troop, band," literally "heap," and the sense of the whole phrase is of a suicide mission. The phrase is usually used incorrectly in English, and the misuse has colored the sense of forlorn. Related: Forlornly; forlornness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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