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 formsfor·lorn·ly, adverbfor·lorn·ness, nounun·for·lorn, adjective

Synonyms for forlorn

Synonym study

2. See desolate.

Antonyms for forlorn

1. happy. 2. accompanied. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for forlornness

Historical Examples of forlornness

  • We had subjected ourselves to all this forlornness simply for pleasure.

    In the Wilderness

    Charles Dudley Warner

  • He was obsessed by the solitary idea of his own forlornness.

  • The old sense of forlornness, of being alone and uncared for, returned to her.

    Little Lost Sister

    Virginia Brooks

  • Though one had a pity for his forlornness, there was still an admiration.

    The Blind Spot

    Austin Hall

  • "Troth, it serves me nothing," she said, with a forlornness he could not understand.

    Captain Ravenshaw

    Robert Neilson Stephens

British Dictionary definitions for forlornness



miserable, wretched, or cheerless; desolate
deserted; forsaken
(postpositive foll by of) destitute; bereftforlorn of hope
desperatethe last forlorn attempt
Derived Formsforlornly, adverbforlornness, noun

Word Origin for forlorn

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

Word Origin and History for forlornness



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