adjective for·lorn \ fər-ˈlȯrn , fȯr- \
|Updated on: 20 Jul 2018

Definition of forlorn

1 a : bereft, forsaken
  • left quite forlorn of hope
b : sad and lonely because of isolation or desertion : desolate
  • a forlorn landscape
2 : being in poor condition : miserable, wretched
  • forlorn tumbledown buildings
3 : nearly hopeless
  • a forlorn attempt




play \fər-ˈlȯrn-nəs, fȯr-\ noun

Examples of forlorn in a Sentence

  1. Against the forlorn backdrop of the muddy terrain the media circus has left behind, the young mother is photographed for a fashion spread wearing a … white dress. —James WolcottVanity FairSeptember 1998
  2. There is nothing quite so forlorn as a closed factory—Vic Wilcox knows, having supervised a shutdown himself in his time. —David LodgeNice Work1990
  3. Like Ozymandias, once king of kings but now two legs of a broken statue in Percy Shelley's desert, the great facade of Union Station in Washington, D.C., stands forlorn —Stephen Jay GouldNatural HistoryNovember 1986
  4. she was forlorn when she found out the trip had been cancelled

  5. a forlorn wanderer far from home

Recent Examples of forlorn from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'forlorn.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of forlorn

Middle English forloren, from Old English, past participle of forlēosan to lose, from for- + lēosan to lose — more at lose

forlorn Synonyms

Synonym Discussion of forlorn

alone, solitary, lonely, lonesome, lone, forlorn, desolate mean isolated from others. alone stresses the objective fact of being by oneself with slighter notion of emotional involvement than most of the remaining terms.
    • everyone needs to be alone sometimes
solitary may indicate isolation as a chosen course
    • glorying in the calm of her solitary life
but more often it suggests sadness and a sense of loss.
    • left solitary by the death of his wife
lonely adds to solitary a suggestion of longing for companionship.
    • felt lonely and forsaken
lonesome heightens the suggestion of sadness and poignancy.
    • an only child often leads a lonesome life
lone may replace lonely or lonesome but typically is as objective as alone.
    • a lone robin pecking at the lawn
forlorn stresses dejection, woe, and listlessness at separation from one held dear.
    • a forlorn lost child
desolate implies inconsolable grief at loss or bereavement.
    • desolate after her brother's death

FORLORN Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of forlorn for English Language Learners

  • : sad and lonely

  • : empty and in poor condition

  • : not having much chance of success : nearly hopeless

FORLORN Defined for Kids


adjective for·lorn \ fər-ˈlȯrn \

Definition of forlorn for Students

: sad from being left alone


  • The dog howled forlornly.

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