sor·​ry ˈsär-ē How to pronounce sorry (audio)
sorrier; sorriest
: feeling sorrow or sympathy
I'm so sorry for your loss.
We were very sorry to hear the news.
She felt sorry for him. [=she felt sympathy and concern for him because of his situation, problems, etc.]
He told me to stop feeling sorry for myself. [=to stop indulging in self-pity]
: feeling regret or penitence
He was sorry about what he had said.
"I wanted to apologize," she said, "for my abominable rudeness in laughing at you just now. It was idiotic of me and I don't know why I did it. I'm sorry."P. G. Wodehouse
"… I'm so sorry, but the tongs were too hot, and so I've made a mess," groaned poor Jo, regarding the little black pancakes with tears of regret.Louisa May Alcott
I am sorry we have ever differed, and extremely sorry I have ever given you offence.Charles Dickens
used to express polite regret
I'm sorry, but I think you're wrong.I'm sorry to interrupt you.
used to introduce disappointing or bad news in a polite way
I'm sorry, but we won't be able to come.
used as an apology for a minor fault or offense
Oh, sorry—that was clumsy of me.I'm late again. Sorry about that. [=I'm sorry; I apologize]
: mournful, sad
Rilla remembered one moonlit evening of childhood when she had said to her mother, "The moon just looks like a sorry, sorry face."Lucy Maud Montgomery
: inspiring sorrow, pity, scorn, or ridicule : pitiful
Their affairs were in a sorry state.
Lawrence blushed, and then smiled awkwardly. A man in love is a sorry spectacle.Agatha Christie
In view of the sorry treatment of the Native Americans of the US, it is time that their voice was heard a little more clearly in contemporary American society.Tim Flannery
… had been on her way to work when her rusted-out, … sorry excuse for a car … choked on its last drop of gasoline, then died.Ingrid Law
ˈsär-ə-lē How to pronounce sorry (audio)
sorriness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for sorry

contemptible, despicable, pitiable, sorry, scurvy mean arousing or deserving scorn.

contemptible may imply any quality provoking scorn or a low standing in any scale of values.

a contemptible liar

despicable may imply utter worthlessness and usually suggests arousing an attitude of moral indignation.

a despicable crime

pitiable applies to what inspires mixed contempt and pity.

a pitiable attempt at tragedy

sorry may stress pitiable inadequacy or may suggest wretchedness or sordidness.

this rattletrap is a sorry excuse for a car

scurvy adds to despicable an implication of arousing disgust.

a scurvy crew of hangers-on

Example Sentences

I'm sorry if I offended you. She was sorry to hear about their divorce. I'm sorry for your loss. I'm sorry for saying that. I'm sorry that I wasted your time. What a sorry state of affairs we're in now. That's the sorriest excuse I've heard. See More
Recent Examples on the Web This sorry state is the result of a deliberate policy on the part of successive governments to destroy working-class solidarity, in the eyes of the director and his long-time screenwriting partner Paul Laverty. Leo Barraclough, Variety, 28 May 2023 For hotels and resorts, that means that spas—sorry, wellness centers—are money-making epicenters, well worth investing in. Jillian Dara, Robb Report, 25 May 2023 Some personalities, though, just will never make the cut – sorry, Jar Jar. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, 24 May 2023 One downside is that the design/shape of the bag is made to be worn on the right shoulder only (sorry, lefties!). Katherine Alex Beaven, Travel + Leisure, 24 May 2023 And that actually goes in line with another weird thing about us, which is that our bioelectricity— or sorry, our regeneration capabilities are time-dependent and tissue-dependent. IEEE Spectrum, 23 May 2023 But then there’s time to say sorry, or to seek counseling; to fix things. Hanna Krueger,, 17 May 2023 Greg Becker plans to say sorry to a Senate committee Tuesday, reports my colleague Allison Morrow. Nicole Goodkind, CNN, 16 May 2023 The 59-year-old actor’s work in the Oscar-winning Rings trilogy is widely credited as helping turn Gollum into the first fully believable, photorealistic and popular motion-capture cinema character (sorry, Jar-Jar). James Hibberd, The Hollywood Reporter, 15 May 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'sorry.' 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 sory, from Old English sārig, from sār sore

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near sorry

Cite this Entry

“Sorry.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 May. 2023.

Kids Definition


sor·​ry ˈsär-ē How to pronounce sorry (audio)
sorrier; sorriest
: feeling sorrow or regret
: causing sorrow, pity, or scorn : wretched
sorriness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on sorry

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