Definitions

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

  • adj. Appearing sad or lonely because deserted or abandoned.
  • adj. Forsaken or deprived: forlorn of all hope.
  • adj. Wretched or pitiful in appearance or condition: forlorn roadside shacks.
  • adj. Nearly hopeless; desperate. See Synonyms at despondent.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. Past participle of forlese
  • adj. abandoned, left behind, deserted
  • adj. miserable, as when lonely being abandoned.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Deserted; abandoned; lost.
  • adj. Destitute; helpless; in pitiful plight; wretched; miserable; almost hopeless; desperate.
  • n. A lost, forsaken, or solitary person.
  • n. A forlorn hope; a vanguard.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Lost; deserted; forsaken; abandoned.
  • Hence Without help or succor; helpless; wretched; miserable.
  • Small; despicable: in a ludicrous sense.
  • Deprived; bereft; destitute.
  • Synonyms Friendless, miserable, comfortless, disconsolate, woebegone, abject, pitiable.
  • n. A lost, forsaken, or solitary person.
  • n. A forlorn hope; an advanced body of troops; a vanguard.

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

  • adj. marked by or showing hopelessness

Etymologies

Middle English forloren, past participle of forlesen, to abandon, from Old English forlēosan; see leu- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English forlorn, forloren, from Old English forloren (past participle of forlēosan ("to lose")), from Proto-Germanic *fraluzanaz (“lost”), past participle of Proto-Germanic *fraleusanan (“to lose”), equivalent to for- +‎ lorn. Cognate with Dutch verloren ("lost"), German verloren ("lost"), Swedish förlorad ("lost"). More at lese/leese, lorn. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • PREVIOUS to the departure of Captain Overbury, Charlotte had solicited Mrs. Danby to reside entirely at her house, as long as she should be compelled to sustain what she termed her forlorn situation; and that lady, having readily acceded to the proposal, had wholly quitted her own habitation, and was now a constant resident with her daughter-in-law. —

    Ashton Priory

  • Related: In the Los Angeles Times, Queenan considers The Interpreter, The Constant Gardener and Blood Diamond: In each of these movies, beleaguered black folks marooned in forlorn, blood-drenched African nations get to see justice done because of the heroic efforts of some truly fabulous white people.

    GreenCine Daily: Jumpstart-the-week shorts.

  • I saw my kind, our women with us, in forlorn hopes and lost endeavours, pent in hill fortresses, rotted in jungle fastnesses, cut down to the last one on the decks of rocking ships.

    Chapter 49

  • Norman’s historic contribution to the practice of modern medicine arose from his discovery that two specialitiespreviously laboring in forlorn isolation — gastroenterology and psychiatry — were actually made for each other, and more effectively than ever before enabled the doctor to get right inside the patient.

    Archive 2009-05-01

  • A small party, that might be called a forlorn hope, provided with plank to cross the ditch, advanced at a run, up to the very ditch; the lines of infantry sprang from cover, and advanced rapidly in line of battle.

    Memoirs of the Union's Three Great Civil War Generals

  • He recalled the forlorn little smile with which she had accepted von Elmur's lover-like protestations at Madame de Sagan's doorway.

    A Modern Mercenary

  • Lloyd recalled the forlorn little woman in a wispy crêpe veil, who had enlisted her sympathy to such an extent one Thanksgiving Day that she and Betty had walked over to Rollington from the Seminary to carry the greater part of the turkey and fruit that had been sent them in their box of Thanksgiving goodies.

    The Little Colonel's Christmas Vacation

  • "Will, is that you?" called a forlorn voice from the depths.

    Cricket at the Seashore

  • This attacking column might have been called a forlorn hope, so few men had she with her.

    Joan of Arc

  • At many battles there is what is known as the forlorn hope -- those whom the French call _Les enfants perdus_ -- The Lost Children.

    The Purchase Price

Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Tom hated garden chores but with the grass growing inches in a week he dragged out the mower, forlorn.

    February 6, 2011

  • "'I didn't want to talk about it,' I said. I didn't like the way that came out, kind of forlorn." -Club Dead, by Charlaine Harris

    February 5, 2011