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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 forlorn
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The irruption of Bennie and Zephyr threatened disaster even to this forlorn hope.

    Blue Goose Frank Lewis Nason
  • So help him God, he would not die childless and forlorn as Iron Skull had done.

    Still Jim Honor Willsie Morrow
  • With gratitude the forlorn butterfly rested all night in the bosom of one of its simple white blossoms.

  • But I do like you; you have such a forlorn little look in your face.

    Sara Crewe Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • It was romantic in some of its aspects, and it was tempting to the forlorn young creature.

    They Looked and Loved Mrs. Alex McVeigh Miller
British Dictionary definitions for forlorn


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 forlorn

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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