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

  • adj. Characterized by undeserved bad luck; unlucky.
  • adj. Causing misfortune; disastrous.
  • adj. Regrettable; deplorable: an unfortunate lack of good manners.
  • n. A victim of bad luck.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. not favored by fortune
  • adj. marked or accompanied by or resulting in misfortune
  • n. An unlucky person.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Not fortunate; unsuccessful; not prosperous; unlucky; attended with misfortune; unhappy

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Not fortunate; not prosperous; unlucky; unhappy: as, an unfortunate adventure; an unfortunate man.
  • Synonyms Unsuccessful, ill-fated, ill-starred, disastrous, calamitous. See fortunate.
  • n. One who or that which is unfortunate; one who has fallen into misfortune or misery.

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

  • adj. unsuitable or regrettable
  • adj. not favored by fortune; marked or accompanied by or resulting in ill fortune
  • adj. not auspicious; boding ill
  • n. a person who suffers misfortune


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • Had he not said the unfortunate had a claim on all honorable men, and surely he was a man an _unfortunate_ might apply to, if any man was?

    The New England Magazine, Volume 1, No. 5, Bay State Monthly, Volume 4, No. 5, May, 1886

  • 'A most unfortunate circumstance -- a most _unfortunate_ circumstance.

    England, My England

  • _unfortunate_ client for whom it is my privilege to appear, "said a young barrister, making his first essay in Westminster Hall --" the unfortunate client, my lord, for whom I appear -- hem! hem!

    A Book About Lawyers

  • He warns of what he calls unfortunate consequences for Iran if that country continues its nuclear defiance.

    CNN Transcript Dec 3, 2009

  • And one of the candidates seeking the position made some, what I call unfortunate remarks.

    CNN Transcript Jan 4, 2009

  • WHITFIELD: Kerry criticized what he calls the unfortunate habit of Americans to see the world through an American lens.

    CNN Transcript Jan 27, 2007

  • WHITFIELD: Kerry criticized what he called the unfortunate habit of Americans to see the world through an American's lens.

    CNN Transcript Jan 27, 2007

  • She showed her devotion by taking no interest whatever in her husband's land schemes; by forbidding Eugene to play football at school for fear he might be injured; by impressing Adele with the necessity for vivacity and modishness because of what she called her unfortunate lack of beauty.

    Half Portions

  • How precious to the unfortunate is a mark of interest!

    The Ruin of a Princess

  • Maskelyne, Astronomer Royal, a century ago, was intended especially for the use of navigators; hence the familiar appellation, which I call unfortunate because it leads to the impression that the work is simply an enlargement and improvement of the household almanac.

    The Reminiscences of an Astronomer


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  • In the Borough Library the medical dictionaries are mostly used by unfortunates looking up their maladies.

    - Peter Reading, C, 1984

    July 4, 2008