Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.


She had had a forlorn hope that he would throw down the sheet; but he did not.

These men were as forlorn and miserable as my self, death grinning in our faces at every turn.

Altogether, the appearance of the individual was forlorn and miserable.

There were forlorn hollows under his eyes; now he looked twice his age.

That he might be; but he was not so forlorn as to roam away and leave them together.

The forlorn smile with which she said it, so touched him, that tears started from his eyes.

He was not old, not alone and forlorn and cumbering the earth.

She was a widow, had just lost her father, with whom she lived, and was very miserable and forlorn.

Poor, poor, forlorn girl—it was thus she begged and supplicated, but he denied her.

I came here with a wild sort of forlorn hope you could forgive.


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.


Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.