Definition of forlorn in English:


Syllabification: for·lorn
Pronunciation: /fərˈlôrn


1Pitifully sad and abandoned or lonely: forlorn figures at bus stops
More example sentences
  • A pathetically forlorn figure, he set out to destroy all traces of the religion of his ancestors.
  • Friends tell me Paul has been seen walking his dog around the Heath, looking rather forlorn and lonely.
  • This is the tale of a lonely and forlorn Scotsman, who somehow managed to get himself separated from his drinking companions, and lost in a strange city.
2(Of an aim or endeavor) unlikely to succeed or be fulfilled; hopeless: a forlorn attempt to escape
More example sentences
  • The bikers have started burning them down at night in a forlorn attempt to hold back the waves of progress that Phoenix is attracting with its golf courses.
  • Archaeologists think it may have been built in a forlorn attempt to stave off the effects of climate change 5,000 years ago.
  • Any such effort would be forlorn, for O'Neill is staying put in Britain.
hopeless, vain, with no chance of success;
archaic bootless


Old English forloren 'depraved, morally abandoned,' past participle of forlēosan 'lose,' of Germanic origin; related to Dutch verliezen and German verlieren, and ultimately to for- and lose. sense 1 dates from the 16th century.


forlorn hope

A persistent or desperate hope that is unlikely to be fulfilled.
[ mid 16th century: from Dutch verloren hoop 'lost troop', from verloren (past participle of verliezen 'lose') and hoop 'company' (related to heap). The phrase originally denoted a band of soldiers picked to begin an attack, many of whom would not survive; the current sense (mid 17th century) derives from a misunderstanding of the etymology]
More example sentences
  • A forlorn hope, I know - but better than no hope at all.
  • They would be forced to start at the bottom and work their way back up, but at least derby matches would simply be a hope for the future rather than a forlorn hope.
  • But that now looks a forlorn hope as the player suffered a setback and is unlikely to get many, if any, competitive matches under his belt before the season ends.



More example sentences
  • She had lost the final point of that service game in disarray, falling over in mid-rally and desperately, but forlornly, flailing at the ball to try to get it back.
  • She stared so boldly and so forlornly and so desperately that her heart could have done her talking for her.
  • To those who had watched forlornly as his political hopes ground to a halt in 1989, 1994 and 1998, it seemed he was tempting fate.


Pronunciation: /fərˈlôrnˌnəs/
More example sentences
  • Nor does it, as some supporters of the project insist, either convey unsettling, dizzy-making sensations, or employ milder, aesthetically educational means to let the forlornness of the victims be heard.
  • How unspeakable, then, it struck her, that worldly arrangements should contribute to the forlornness of one's natural state!
  • The repetition in lines two and four underscores the severity of the situation and the depth of the speaker's forlornness: She cannot simply relieve the pain that she feels through a pleasurable activity.

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