Share this entry

unfortunate Line breaks: un|for¦tu¦nate
Pronunciation: /ʌnˈfɔːtʃ(ə)nət/

Definition of unfortunate in English:


1Having or marked by bad fortune; unlucky: there’d been an unfortunate accident
More example sentences
  • There are psychos around, like there are anywhere and this poor person was unfortunate enough to be standing in front of a psycho who pushed him under a tube
  • The work is spread fairly and in the public interest amongst a wide range of operators to the best requirements of those who are unfortunate enough to be in an accident.
  • Like many others, he was unfortunate enough to lose a limb in a shooting accident but is bravely continuing with his chosen career of caring for his beloved hunting hounds.
1.1Not indicating a good chance of success; inauspicious: the delay at the airport was an unfortunate start to our holiday
More example sentences
  • Lindsay had the unfortunate chance of meeting Izzy last year when she dropped off her Christmas present and Izzy had answered the door.
  • The long chain of unfortunate events indicate that Taiwanese businesspeople can easily become targets of bandits in China.
  • For the second successive weekend an unfortunate clash of fixtures will leave some of the York area's hardcore of match anglers with divided loyalties.
adverse, disadvantageous, unadvantageous, unfavourable, unlucky, untoward, unwelcome;
untimely, unpromising, inauspicious, unpropitious, hostile, tough, hard, inimical, harmful, detrimental, injurious, ruinous, disastrous, calamitous, dire, miserable, distressing, grievous, black, lamentable, tragic, terrible, awful, wretched
2Regrettable or inappropriate: his unfortunate remark silenced the gathering
More example sentences
  • ‘It is important to say the Navy regrets this unfortunate incident,’ said a spokesman for the Pacific Fleet.
  • Firstly, I regret that this unfortunate incident occurred and reiterate our apology to Mrs Hill's family.
  • ‘It's certainly an unfortunate incident that we regret,’ a White House spokesman told a news briefing.


Back to top  
1A person who suffers bad fortune: those unfortunates whose lives are marred by poverty
More example sentences
  • Allow me to explain Fayer's evil plan to you poor unfortunates who have to suffer through his company with me.
  • Let us hope that it has the effect of penalising the habitually and criminally dangerous drivers and not unfortunates who are victims of circumstances.
  • Well, apart from the torture victims, the murdered and other unfortunates who have had their civil liberties eroded, human rights curtailed and so on.
2 archaic A person who is considered immoral or lacking in religious faith or instruction, especially a prostitute.

Definition of unfortunate in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Word of the day fortissimo
Pronunciation: fôrˈtisəˌmō
(especially as a direction) very loud or loudly