Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • interj. Used to express sorrow, regret, grief, compassion, or apprehension of danger or evil.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • interj. Used to express sorrow, regret, compassion or grief.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • interj. An exclamation expressive of sorrow, pity, or apprehension of evil; -- in old writers, sometimes followed by day or white; alas the day, like alack a day, or alas the white.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • An exclamation expressive of sorrow, grief, pity, concern, or apprehension of evil: in old writers sometimes followed by the day or the while: as, alas the day, alas the while. See alackaday.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adv. by bad luck

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French a las, helas, ah (I am) miserable, from Latin lassus, weary; see lē- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French a las (French hélas), from a ("ah") + las, from Latin lassus ("weary"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • About the time Carver was recovering from rejection of that story, Samuel Vaughn at Doubleday returned a manuscript of stories.53 Ray asked Lish to take a look at it, noting that he was sticking with his title alas, he does not say what it was after rejecting “for instance, ‘Bad Check, His Mama, and Beautiful Songs.’”

    Raymond Carver

  • This, alas, is going to end up throwing off the "contest," because if I declare myself done at 60,000 or 65,000 words, that's not fair to Kelly would will surely write exactly as many words as required.

    Day in the Life of an Idiot

  • This, alas, is not a reasonable way to write a novel.

    EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Nir Yaniv

  • This cup, alas, is unuseable, because it has a longitudinal crack inside.

    Kater’s Art » Blog Archive » Celadon Bird Cup

  • Cameron, alas, is merely reflecting the primitive state of the British debate on the EU.

    Linkspam for 28-5-2009

  • That sort of thinking, alas, is why most of the population has such a hard time connecting with the tech world, and why many view computers and kindred devices with fear and suspicion.

    Cory Doctorow Shouldn’t Buy an iPad, but Maybe You Should « Steve Wildstrom on Tech

  • The only other nonwhite face on tap, alas, is the unguided missile Michael Steele, its new national chairman.

    Sunday Reading

  • My mother, alas, is still with us, I say alas because passed a certain point prolongation approaches uncivility ( 'un' - is also valid, I looked it up.)

    Archive 2009-08-01

  • The same, alas, is rarely true of technology, where things going wrong are the order of the day.

    Why Don’t We Trust Tech Brands? | Lifehacker Australia

  • Equally foolish, alas, is the strategy of over-compensating, of putting everything out there as free and legal MP3s.

    Free and legal MP3s

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Comments

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  • To an eager, admiring dog I usually say 'ALAS', with a very low and determined voice. (If you start to laugh - or even worse - giggle after that, you only get your face licked. I hope to God it never happens in a bar with an eager admirer. :o})

    March 5, 2009

  • Particularly an eager, admiring dog.

    March 5, 2009

  • Down! (=Finnish) as you would say to a dog, for example. Or to an eager admirer in a bar, around the wee hours.

    March 5, 2009

  • Not to mention alack.

    December 12, 2007