\ ˈlȯrn How to pronounce lorn (audio) \

Definition of lorn

chiefly literary
: left alone and forlorn : desolate, forsaken When she entered the room she was dressed very plainly as was her custom, and a thick veil covered her face; but still she was dressed with care. There was nothing of the dowdiness of the lone lorn woman about her …— William Thackeray The whole consciousness of my life lorn, my love lost, my hope quenched, my faith death-struck, swayed full and mighty above me in one sullen mass.— Charlotte Brontë Then the young woman suddenly returns to her husband, and the lorn Petra declines into drunkenness.— Stanley Kauffmann

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?

Lorn and forlorn are synonyms that can both mean "desolate" or "forsaken." The similarity in form and meaning of the two words is hardly a coincidence. Lorn comes down to us from loren, the Middle English past participle of the verb lesen ("to lose"), itself a descendent of the Old English lēosan. Similarly, forlorn comes from the Middle English forloren, a descendent of Old English verb forlēosan, which also means "to lose." The "for-" in forlorn is a no longer productive prefix meaning, among other things, "completely," "excessively," or "to exhaustion." Nowadays, forlorn is considerably more common than "lorn." "Lorn" does, however, appear as the second element in the compound lovelorn ("bereft of love or of a lover").

Examples of lorn in a Sentence

lorn beyond all description, the widow struggled to cope with her crushing grief

First Known Use of lorn

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for lorn

Middle English, from loren, past participle of lesen to lose, from Old English lēosan — more at lose

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about lorn

Time Traveler for lorn

Time Traveler

The first known use of lorn was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast about lorn

Statistics for lorn

Cite this Entry

“Lorn.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lorn. Accessed 26 Jan. 2021.

More from Merriam-Webster on lorn

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for lorn

Comments on lorn

What made you want to look up lorn? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!