Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Abandoned, deserted, or desolate.
  • adjective Sad or lonely, especially from being deserted or abandoned.
  • adjective Suggesting or characterized by sadness or loneliness.
  • adjective Wretched or pitiful in appearance or condition.
  • adjective Bereft or deprived.
  • adjective Nearly hopeless; desperate.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • 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.
  • noun A lost, forsaken, or solitary person.
  • noun A forlorn hope; an advanced body of troops; a vanguard.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A lost, forsaken, or solitary person.
  • noun obsolete A forlorn hope; a vanguard.
  • adjective Deserted; abandoned; lost.
  • adjective Destitute; helpless; in pitiful plight; wretched; miserable; almost hopeless; desperate.
  • adjective (Mil.) a body of men (called in F. enfants perdus, in G. verlornen posten) selected, usually from volunteers, to attempt a breach, scale the wall of a fortress, or perform other extraordinarily perilous service; also, a desperate case or enterprise.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb obsolete Past participle of forlese
  • adjective abandoned, left behind, deserted
  • adjective miserable, as when lonely being abandoned.

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

  • adjective marked by or showing hopelessness

Etymologies

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

[Middle English forloren, past participle of forlesen, to abandon, from Old English forlēosan; see leu- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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.

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

  • 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 XLIX

  • 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

  • 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.

    Stray notes for a futuristic novel

  • 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

Comments

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  • "'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

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

    February 6, 2011

  • marked by or showing hopelessness

    After her third pet dog died, Marcia was simply forlorn: this time even the possibility of buying a new dog no longer held any joy.

    October 19, 2016