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[fawr-lawrn] /fɔrˈlɔrn/
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 forms
forlornly, adverb
forlornness, noun
unforlorn, adjective
1. pitiful, pitiable, helpless, woebegone, comfortless. 2. alone, lost, solitary. See desolate. 4. deprived.
1. happy. 2. accompanied. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for forlornness
Historical Examples
  • He was anxious to get on, to reach his Camberton rooms, where the Sunday forlornness was peace after this swinish atmosphere.

    The Man Who Wins Robert Herrick
  • We had subjected ourselves to all this forlornness simply for pleasure.

    In the Wilderness Charles Dudley Warner
  • He had remained at the edge of the lot for some time, taking strange and wistful pleasure in his own forlornness.

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

    Little Lost Sister Virginia Brooks
  • A sense of forlornness oppressed her, and the magnitude of the task she had undertaken weighed upon her spirits.

    A Daughter of the Union Lucy Foster Madison
  • Though one had a pity for his forlornness, there was still an admiration.

    The Blind Spot Austin Hall
  • Still her despair and forlornness weighed upon her more and more.

    Geoffrey Hampstead Thomas Stinson Jarvis
  • "Troth, it serves me nothing," she said, with a forlornness he could not understand.

    Captain Ravenshaw Robert Neilson Stephens
  • It is needless to add, that a deep sense of forlornness and insecurity was the result of these reflections.

  • The forlornness of the bookcase gave a stricken air to the whole room.

    Hilda Lessways Arnold Bennett
British Dictionary definitions for forlornness


miserable, wretched, or cheerless; desolate
deserted; forsaken
(postpositive) foll by of. destitute; bereft: forlorn of hope
desperate: the last forlorn attempt
Derived Forms
forlornly, adverb
forlornness, noun
Word Origin
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
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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
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