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

Did you know?

Lorn and forlorn are synonyms that 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 descendant of the Old English lēosan. Similarly, forlorn comes from the Middle English forloren, a descendant of the Old English verb forlēosan, which also means "to lose." The for- in forlorn is an archaic 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

Word History


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

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

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


Dictionary Entries Near lorn

Cite this Entry

“Lorn.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


: having been abandoned or forsaken
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