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Related to sorriness: in earnest
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feel sorry for (someone)

1. To empathize with or feel compassion for another person over his or her sorrows, problems, or plight. It's infuriating that the CEOs swindled the country for millions of dollars, but I feel especially sorry for the thousands of their employees who are now out of a job. I feel so sorry for Johnny—his addiction has gotten completely out of control.
2. To pity someone or his or her situation, especially in a condescending manner. I don't need you or anyone else feeling sorry for me! I must say, I feel sorry for the way you need constant affirmation from other people.
See also: feel, sorry

in a sorry state

In a pitiful or abject condition. My business was in a sorry state after I left it under the control of my brother. John's been in a sorry state lately—I think he's taken up drinking again.
See also: sorry, state

be in a sorry state

To be in a very poor, pitiful, dysfunctional, or sad state or condition. I guarantee that the company will be in a sorry state in no time if my no-account brother is put in charge. Their house has been in a sorry state ever since Dan's wife passed away.
See also: sorry, state

a sorry state (of affairs)

A particularly unfortunate, unpleasant, and/or upsetting situation or set of circumstances. Their company has been in a sorry state ever since Jonathan took over. It's a sorry state of affairs when you can no longer be sure how you'll feed your children each night.
See also: sorry, state

be sorry

Regret (something). Often used in the phrase, "you'll be sorry. OK, fine, don't do what mom said—you'll be sorry! If you go in my room when I'm not here, you'll be sorry!
See also: sorry

(Are you) sorry you asked?

Now that you have heard (the unpleasant answer), do you regret having asked the question? (Compare this with You'll be sorry you asked.) Father: How are you doing in school? Bill: I'm flunking out. Sorry you asked? Mother: You've been looking a little down lately. Is there anything wrong? Bill: I probably have the flu. Are you sorry you asked?
See also: sorry

Better (be) safe than sorry.

Prov. Cliché You should be cautious—if you are not, you may regret it. It may be time-consuming to check the oil in your car every time you buy gasoline, but better safe than sorry. Bob: I don't need a tetanus shot just because I stepped on a nail. Mary: I still think you should get one. Better be safe than sorry.
See also: better, safe, sorry

(I'm) sorry.

an expression used to excuse oneself politely or apologize, especially when one has collided with someone, when one has offended someone, or to ask someone to repeat what has been said. "I'm sorry," I said to the woman I bumped into. I'm sorry, what did you say? I couldn't hear you.

(I'm) sorry to hear that,

an expression of consolation or regret. John: My cat died last week. Jane: I am sorry to hear that. Bill: I'm afraid I won't be able to continue here as head teller. Bank manager: Sorry to hear that.
See also: hear, sorry

(I'm) sorry you asked (that).

I regret that you asked about something I wanted to forget. Tom: What on earth is this hole in your suit jacket? Bill: I'm sorry you asked. I was feeding a squirrel and it bit through my pocket where the food was. Sally: Why is there only canned soup in the cupboard? John: Sorry you asked that. I just haven't been to the grocery store in awhile. Sally: Want some soup?
See also: ask, sorry

sorry about that

 and sorry 'bout that
sorry; whoops. (A gross understatement, said more as a self-deprecating joke than as an apology.) You spill hot cocoa on my coat, and all you can say is "Sorry 'about that"? When the passenger stepped on my toe, she said, "sorry about that."
See also: sorry

sorry sight

 and sad sight
a sight that one regrets seeing; someone or something that is unpleasant to look at. Well, aren't you a sorry sight! Go get cleaned up and put on some fresh clothes.
See also: sight, sorry

Sorry (that) I asked.

Now that I have heard the answer, I regret asking the question. Alice: Can we get anew car soon? The old one is a wreck. John: Are you kidding? There's no way that we could ever afford a new car! Alice: Sorry I asked. After he heard the long list of all the reasons he wouldn't be allowed to go to the concert, Fred just shrugged and said, "Sorry that I asked."
See also: ask, sorry

You'll be sorry you asked.

Inf. The answer to the question you just asked is so bad that you will be sorry you asked it. (Compare this with (Are you) sorry you asked?) Father: What are your grades going to be like this semester? Sally: You'll be sorry you asked. Mary: How much did you pay for that lamp? Jane: You'll be sorry you asked.
See also: ask, sorry

better safe than sorry

being careful is probably more desirable than risking a bad result Concerned about the attacks, he sent his son out of the village, figuring, better safe than sorry.
See also: better, safe, sorry

sorry to say

also sad to say
I regret telling you this Sorry to say, the violin was never found.
See also: say, sorry

a sad state of affairs

(spoken) also a sorry state of affairs
a bad situation that you find upsetting It's a sad state of affairs when schools don't provide a basic education for their students.
Usage notes: sometimes used in the form a sad state: Things have reached a sad state when you have to pay a bribe to get something done.
See also: affair, of, sad, state

Better (to be) safe than sorry.

something that you say which means it is best not to take risks even if it seems boring or hard work to be careful I'll hold the ladder while you climb up. Better safe than sorry.
See also: better, safe, sorry

better safe than sorry

Being careful may avoid disaster, as in I'm not taking any short-cuts-better safe than sorry. This cautionary phrase appeared as better sure than sorry in 1837.
See also: better, safe, sorry


and pathetic
mod. pitiful; drawing ridicule or scorn; worthy more of condemnation than pity. (In colloquial use these words are usually used in sarcasm and disgust.) You are one sorry bastard! You are a pathetic person and a pathetic example of a quarterback!

sorry about that

and sorry ’bout that
interj. sorry; whoops. (A gross understatement, said more as a self-deprecating joke than as an apology.) When the passenger stepped on my toe, she said, “Sorry about that.”
See also: sorry

sorry ’bout that

See also: sorry


1. mod. sad and depressed. (Usually objectionable.) Man, old Charlie was about the most sorry-ass dude you ever saw.
2. mod. worthless; poor quality. (Usually objectionable.) How much longer do I have to drive this sorry-ass excuse for an automobile?