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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
  • For the forlorn obsessed dedicated, there are even committee minutes and by-laws.
  • But in daily life, researchers studying older people have found, cortisol might be helpful in getting the forlorn out of bed.
  • Think of the forlorn looks at the chow hall at what the next guy gets to eat for lunch.
  • The overcast lighting along with the weather aged deteriorating boats added to the forlorn feelings of the scene.
  • There is a fountain in the middle that is much too small to anchor the large circle, and always looks forlorn.
  • The hog barns are close to the road and appear forlorn and abandoned.
  • Today these icons are forlorn with grime, ignored by the new capitalists bustling in the streets.
  • His own children end up, too, as forlorn figures in his imperial city.
  • Perhaps trendsetters are simply bestowing the cool label on other, previously forlorn brands.
  • forlorn separatists there are still locked up for unfurling flags.
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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