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[ri-gret] /rɪˈgrɛt/
verb (used with object), regretted, regretting.
to feel sorrow or remorse for (an act, fault, disappointment, etc.):
He no sooner spoke than he regretted it.
to think of with a sense of loss:
to regret one's vanished youth.
a sense of loss, disappointment, dissatisfaction, etc.
a feeling of sorrow or remorse for a fault, act, loss, disappointment, etc.
regrets, a polite, usually formal refusal of an invitation:
I sent her my regrets.
a note expressing regret at one's inability to accept an invitation:
I have had four acceptances and one regret.
Origin of regret
1300-50; Middle English regretten (v.) < Middle French regreter, Old French, equivalent to re- re- + -greter, perhaps < Germanic (cf. greet2)
Related forms
regretter, noun
regrettingly, adverb
unregretted, adjective
unregretting, adjective
Can be confused
begrudge, regret, resent (see synonym study at the current entry)
1. deplore, lament, bewail, bemoan, mourn, sorrow, grieve. Regret, penitence, remorse imply a sense of sorrow about events in the past, usually wrongs committed or errors made. Regret is distress of mind, sorrow for what has been done or failed to be done: to have no regrets. Penitence implies a sense of sin or misdoing, a feeling of contrition and determination not to sin again: a humble sense of penitence. Remorse implies pangs, qualms of conscience, a sense of guilt, regret, and repentance for sins committed, wrongs done, or duty not performed: a deep sense of remorse.
1. rejoice. 4. joy. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for regretting
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • This is a crying evil: a bad state of things; and in regretting it, we must not lay the blame wholly on the opposite sex.

    A Book For The Young Sarah French
  • But as it has gone so far, and it is necessary for us to act, it is of no use shrinking or regretting.

    Barnaby Rudge Charles Dickens
  • According to Barbour, he made no answer, only regretting the breaking of his good axe-shaft.

    King Robert the Bruce A. F. Murison
  • Ever since he had been a master-printer on his own account, he had been regretting the fact.

    Cleo The Magnificent Louis Zangwill
  • Did the lover look back, regretting the broken word, the wrong done to another?

    In the Heart of Vosges Matilda Betham-Edwards
  • At every hour, he had to listen to his wife praising and regretting her first husband.

    Therese Raquin Emile Zola
  • Sivel gathered these particulars during his stay at Canterbury, regretting the proceedings of Laurentius.

    The Paladins of Edwin the Great Clements R. Markham
  • You will be regretting by now that you did not kill me too, as I invited you on that occasion.

    Scaramouche Rafael Sabatini
British Dictionary definitions for regretting


verb (transitive) -grets, -gretting, -gretted
(may take a clause as object or an infinitive) to feel sorry, repentant, or upset about
to bemoan or grieve the death or loss of
a sense of repentance, guilt, or sorrow, as over some wrong done or an unfulfilled ambition
a sense of loss or grief
(pl) a polite expression of sadness, esp in a formal refusal of an invitation
Derived Forms
regretful, adjective
regretfully, adverb
regretfulness, noun
regrettable, adjective
regrettably, adverb
regretter, noun
Usage note
Regretful and regretfully are sometimes wrongly used where regrettable and regrettably are meant: he gave a regretful smile; he smiled regretfully; this is a regrettable (not regretful) mistake; regrettably (not regretfully), I shall be unable to attend
Word Origin
C14: from Old French regrete, of Scandinavian origin; compare Old Norse grāta to weep
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 regretting



"to look back with distress or sorrowful longing; to grieve for on remembering," late 14c., from Old French regreter "long after, bewail, lament someone's death; ask the help of" (Modern French regretter), from re-, intensive prefix (see re-), + -greter, possibly from Frankish or some other Germanic source (cf. Old English grætan "to weep;" Old Norse grata "to weep, groan"), from Proto-Germanic *gretan "weep." "Not found in other Romance languages, and variously explained" [Century Dictionary].

Related: Regretted; regretting. Replaced Old English ofþyncan, from of- "off, away," here denoting opposition, + þyncan "seem, seem fit" (as in methinks).


"pain or distress in the mind at something done or left undone," 1530s, from the verb, or from Middle French regret, back-formation from regreter (see regret (v.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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