un·​for·​tu·​nate | \ ˌən-ˈfȯrch-nət, -ˈfȯr-chə- How to pronounce unfortunate (audio) \

Definition of unfortunate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : not favored by fortune : unsuccessful, unlucky an unfortunate young man
b : marked or accompanied by or resulting in misfortune an unfortunate decision
2a : infelicitous, unsuitable an unfortunate choice of words
b : deplorable, regrettable an unfortunate lack of taste



Definition of unfortunate (Entry 2 of 2)

: an unfortunate person

Examples of unfortunate in a Sentence

Adjective She was unfortunate enough to have been chosen as an example. an unfortunate chain of events It's unfortunate that he couldn't be here for your birthday. He has an unfortunate tendency to show up late. an unfortunate choice of words Noun a group of poor unfortunates
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The unfortunate reality—still considered a political third rail—is that the only policy that addresses these costs would be one that reduced the amount of meat produced. Jan Dutkiewicz, The New Republic, 6 Jan. 2022 In any case, this entire unfortunate incident says a lot about how much Dorothy Andersen meant to the hospital. Katie Hafner, Scientific American, 23 Dec. 2021 For Gardner Institute Senior Research Fellow Dejan Eskic the unfortunate reality is that these increases can often hurt low-income renters, who may lack the credit or savings for a down payment to even attempt to buy a home. The Salt Lake Tribune, 14 Dec. 2021 An unfortunate incident in 2015 brought attention to the lack of inclusion at the arena for those with disabilities. Gregory Burnett, cleveland, 6 Dec. 2021 But there’s an unfortunate reality behind these numbers. Rebecca Rubin, Variety, 22 Nov. 2021 The unfortunate reality is that in these types of runaway scenarios, there is very little in your control as an individual. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, 8 Nov. 2021 This has been the unfortunate reality for Mercedes-AMG's entry-level GT coupe and roadster. Mike Sutton, Car and Driver, 26 Oct. 2021 The unfortunate reality is that the elderly are more likely to fall prey to common Amazon scams. Yoni Heisler, BGR, 19 Oct. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The unfortunate would have been shipped off to a slow death among millions of other victims of Soviet purges. Sam Kiley, CNN, 30 Oct. 2021 One unfortunate fled to China, only to be arrested and sent home, whereupon he was promptly dispatched to a camp. The Economist, 13 Mar. 2021 The film's title is a shape representing the meeting point between the physical world and the one beyond; hairy, patient moths seem to hold the souls of some unfortunates, though why some people meet this fate is unclear. John Defore, The Hollywood Reporter, 23 July 2019 Our family name, Ramirez, is the same name of these unfortunates who did not make it across the river. Dp Opinion, The Denver Post, 30 June 2019 But that gentle slope has been known to cause strollers and wheelchairs to roll off as well, not to mention the intoxicated, the disoriented, wrestlers, and other unfortunates. William Finnegan, The New Yorker, 2 July 2018 These unfortunates spent hours each day chewing tough roots, choking down leaves and stems, munching on tiny berries and gorging on rare windfalls of meat, bone marrow and worms. Nathan H. Lents, WSJ, 13 Apr. 2018 As the threads of society break down, the poor unfortunates who survived the initial barrage don't so much live as merely exist in the post-apocalyptic ruins. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, 25 Jan. 2018 There are still unfortunates among us who have yet to lean forward and squint in disbelief at the grainy YouTube images capturing Tharpe, necklines high and hemlines low, coaxing the first, fiery licks from her Gibson SG. Andrea Simakis, cleveland.com, 21 Jan. 2018

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

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First Known Use of unfortunate


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1683, in the meaning defined above

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

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Last Updated

21 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Unfortunate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unfortunate. Accessed 27 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for unfortunate



English Language Learners Definition of unfortunate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: having bad luck : unlucky
: coming or happening by bad luck
: not appropriate or desirable



English Language Learners Definition of unfortunate (Entry 2 of 2)

: an unfortunate person


un·​for·​tu·​nate | \ ˌən-ˈfȯr-chə-nət How to pronounce unfortunate (audio) \

Kids Definition of unfortunate

1 : not fortunate : unlucky the unfortunate victim an unfortunate incident
2 : accompanied by or resulting in bad luck an unfortunate decision
3 : not proper or suitable an unfortunate remark

Other Words from unfortunate

unfortunately adverb Unfortunately, no one was home.

More from Merriam-Webster on unfortunate

Nglish: Translation of unfortunate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of unfortunate for Arabic Speakers


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