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 unfortunately

Contemporary Examples of unfortunately

Historical Examples of unfortunately

  • The general probability of his statements could not, unfortunately be gainsaid.

    The Grand Old Man

    Richard B. Cook

  • To do this is not as easy as it would be if our race-mind worked that way; but unfortunately it does not.

  • It is the sensible schemes, unfortunately, that are hopeless in England.

  • The only cheap commodity, one unfortunately we cannot live upon, is the bouquet.

    In the Heart of Vosges

    Matilda Betham-Edwards

  • And we couldn't do the thing, unfortunately, as it deals with the harem.

    It Happened in Egypt

    C. N. Williamson

British Dictionary definitions for unfortunately



(sentence modifier) it is regrettable that; unluckily



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 unfortunately

1540s, from unfortunate + -ly (2). Originally "not successfully, to a regrettable extent." The proper meaning is now rare; the main modern sense of "sad to say," in parenthetical use, recorded from 1770s.



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