suffering from bad luck: an unfortunate person.
unfavorable or inauspicious: an unfortunate beginning.
regrettable or deplorable: an unfortunate remark.
marked by or inviting misfortune: an unfortunate development.
lamentable; sad: the unfortunate death of her parents.


an unfortunate person.

Origin of unfortunate

First recorded in 1520–30; un-1 + fortunate
Related formsun·for·tu·nate·ly, adverbun·for·tu·nate·ness, noun

Synonyms for unfortunate

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for unfortunate

Contemporary Examples of unfortunate

Historical Examples of unfortunate

  • It was unfortunate as to time, owing to the condition of affairs in Italy.

    The Grand Old Man

    Richard B. Cook

  • She had just taken the class, and was so unfortunate as not to be acquainted with their names.

  • The unfortunate victim of the law came perilously close to despair then.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • It would have been unfortunate if it were otherwise, for he is very poor indeed.


    W. A. Fraser

  • You have an unfortunate way, Eileen, of defeating your own ends.

    Her Father's Daughter

    Gene Stratton-Porter

British Dictionary definitions for unfortunate



causing or attended by misfortune
unlucky, unsuccessful, or unhappyan unfortunate character
regrettable or unsuitablean unfortunate speech


an unlucky person
Derived Formsunfortunateness, noun
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 unfortunate

1520s, "unlucky," from un- (1) "not" + fortunate. Infortunate in same sense is from late 14c. (along with a verb infortune "to render unhappy," and a noun meaning "bad luck). In late 18c.-early 19c., unfortunate woman was a polite way to say "prostitute." The noun meaning "one who is not fortunate" is recorded from 1630s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper