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[sor-oh, sawr-oh] /ˈsɒr oʊ, ˈsɔr oʊ/
distress caused by loss, affliction, disappointment, etc.; grief, sadness, or regret.
a cause or occasion of grief or regret, as an affliction, a misfortune, or trouble:
His first sorrow was the bank failure.
the expression of grief, sadness, disappointment, or the like:
muffled sorrow.
verb (used without object)
to feel sorrow; grieve.
Origin of sorrow
before 900; (noun) Middle English; Old English sorg; cognate with German Sorge, Dutch zorg, Old Norse sorg, Gothic saurga; (v.) Middle English sorwen, Old English sorgian; cognate with Old High German sorgôn
Related forms
sorrower, noun
sorrowless, adjective
unsorrowing, adjective
1. Sorrow, distress, grief, misery, woe imply bitter suffering, especially as caused by loss or misfortune. Sorrow is the most general term. Grief is keen suffering, especially for a particular reason. Distress implies anxiety, anguish, or acute suffering caused by the pressure of trouble or adversity. Misery suggests such great and unremitting pain or wretchedness of body or mind as crushes the spirit. Woe is deep or inconsolable grief or misery. 2. adversity. 4. mourn, lament. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for sorrow
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She gazed on his features as he slept; and was left to sorrow alone.

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
  • There is nothing but sorrow to be found in loving her, and her heart is no larger than her feet.

    Malbone Thomas Wentworth Higginson
  • Did all the error and sorrow of her life pass distinctly before her?

    Malbone Thomas Wentworth Higginson
  • This signifies more than the stilling of guns, easing the sorrow of war.

  • Mother, I know the sorrow you will feel when you hear what has happened.

    Life in London Edwin Hodder
British Dictionary definitions for sorrow


the characteristic feeling of sadness, grief, or regret associated with loss, bereavement, sympathy for another's suffering, for an injury done, etc
a particular cause or source of regret, grief, etc
Also called sorrowing. the outward expression of grief or sadness
(intransitive) to mourn or grieve
Derived Forms
sorrower, noun
sorrowful, adjective
sorrowfully, adverb
sorrowfulness, noun
Word Origin
Old English sorg; related to Old Norse sorg, Gothic saurga, Old High German sworga
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 sorrow

Old English sorg "grief, regret, trouble, care, pain, anxiety," from Proto-Germanic *sorg- (cf. Old Saxon sorga, Old Norse sorg, Middle Dutch sorghe, Dutch zorg, Old High German soraga, German sorge, Gothic saurga), perhaps from PIE *swergh- "to worry, be sick" (cf. Sanskrit surksati "cares for," Lithuanian sergu "to be sick," Old Church Slavonic sraga "sickness," Old Irish serg "sickness"). Not connected etymologically with sore (adj.) or sorry.


Old English sorgian, from sorg (see sorrow (n.)). Related: Sorrowed; sorrowing. Cf. Dutch zorgen, German sorgen, Gothic saurgan.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for sorrow


Related Terms

drown one's sorrows

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with sorrow
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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