for·​lorn fər-ˈlȯrn How to pronounce forlorn (audio)
: bereft, forsaken
left quite forlorn of hope
: sad and lonely because of isolation or desertion : desolate
a forlorn landscape
: being in poor condition : miserable, wretched
forlorn tumbledown buildings
: nearly hopeless
a forlorn attempt
forlornly adverb
forlornness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of forlorn in a Sentence

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 Wolcott, Vanity Fair, September 1998
There is nothing quite so forlorn as a closed factory—Vic Wilcox knows, having supervised a shutdown himself in his time. David Lodge, Nice Work, 1990
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 Gould, Natural History, November 1986
she was forlorn when she found out the trip had been cancelled a forlorn wanderer far from home
Recent Examples on the Web Ostensibly disturbed, the inhabitants of the Verona Institute seem normal enough, if perhaps understandably forlorn for having been discarded by parents who didn’t want to deal with their challenges. Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times, 2 Feb. 2024 No wonder Jason Kelce looked impossibly forlorn sitting on a bench behind the Philadelphia Eagles’ sideline as the final minutes ticked away in a 32-9 wild-card playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night. Steve Henson, Los Angeles Times, 16 Jan. 2024 Affleck can be seen with an arm in the air, looking forlorn while running a hand through his hair, and appearing generally frustrated while talking to his wife, who seems unperturbed. Emily Tannenbaum, Glamour, 31 Dec. 2023 Their attention to detail feels both clinical and human, as if Dreijer has discovered the exact vibrational frequency of a forlorn voice, and decided to paint it rather than punch in the formula. Pitchfork, 12 Dec. 2023 But in The Strangler, the transference of pain and isolation from Émile (who always leaves behind a scarf reminiscent of his childhood) to a series of forlorn women reminds us of our fragile humanity. Armond White, National Review, 1 Dec. 2023 The forlorn colossus resurfaced occasionally at state fairs and was bought and sold several times. Daniel T. Ksepka, Scientific American, 1 Dec. 2023 The state rooms — the Red, Green and Blue Rooms and the State Dining Room and East Room — for example, were forlorn. Jura Koncius, Washington Post, 21 Nov. 2023 But right now, that’s exactly what some forlorn economists are hoping for. Bychloe Berger, Fortune, 11 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'forlorn.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of forlorn was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near forlorn

Cite this Entry

“Forlorn.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


for·​lorn fər-ˈlȯ(ə)rn How to pronounce forlorn (audio)
: feeling sad and lonely especially because of being left alone
: nearly hopeless
a forlorn cause
forlornly adverb
forlornness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on forlorn

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