Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Acronyms, Wikipedia.

feel sorry for (someone)

1. To empathize with or feel compassion for another person and their 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 their 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

better (to be) safe than sorry

It is better to expend the time or effort to be cautious with one's actions than to feel regret about one's carelessness later. It might be nothing, but you should take your car to the mechanic right away—better to be safe than sorry. I was so nervous about oversleeping that I set three alarms. Better safe than sorry, you know?
See also: better, safe, sorry

sorry to say

Regretfully; unfortunately. The film had a lot of potential, but, sorry to say, it falls flat in just about every way.
See also: say, 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, that

(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, that

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 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

better safe than sorry


it's better to be safe than sorry

COMMON People say better safe than sorry or it's better to be safe than sorry to mean that it is good to be careful, even if it may not seem necessary, in order to avoid problems. I think you should stay in hospital another day or two — better safe than sorry, right? Never take chances with electrical equipment of any kind — it's better to be safe than sorry! Note: People also say that they would rather be safe than sorry. We were surprised by the level of security. `I'd rather be safe than sorry,' she explained.
See also: better, safe, sorry

better safe than sorry

it's wiser to be cautious and careful than to be hasty or rash and so do something that you may later regret.
Apparently the expression is quite recent in this form (mid 20th century); better be sure than sorry is recorded from the mid 19th century.
1998 New Scientist The meeting is to be commended for taking a ‘better safe than sorry’ attitude, and drawing up a baseline list of measures to be put in place when disease breaks out.
See also: better, safe, sorry

ˌbetter (to be) ˌsafe than ˈsorry

(saying) it is better to be too careful than to do something careless that you may later regret: We’d better fill the car up with petrol now. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
See also: better, safe, sorry

cut a fine, poor, sorry, etc. ˈfigure

have a fine, etc. appearance: In his brand new uniform he cut a fine figure.
See also: cut, figure

be/feel ˈsorry for somebody

feel sympathy or pity for somebody: I feel sorry for all the people who are alone at Christmas.
See also: feel, somebody, sorry

be/feel ˈsorry for yourself

(informal, disapproving) be/feel unhappy because you think other people have treated you badly, etc: You can’t sit there feeling sorry for yourself all day.
See also: feel, sorry

I’m ˈsorry to say

used for saying that something is disappointing: He didn’t accept the job, I’m sorry to say.
See also: say, 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, that

sorry ’bout that

See also: sorry, that


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?


References in classic literature ?
Why, as for me," observed the Woozy, who was reclining on the floor with his legs doubled under him, so that he looked much like a square box, "I have never seen those unfortunate people you are speaking of, and yet I am sorry for them, having at times been unfortunate myself.
I am sorry," she said, "I cannot tell you anything.
Everybody is sorry for me," answered the nurse, as patiently as ever; "everybody is kind to me.
Mercy, I am sorry for you; it has come out that I took you from a Refuge; I shall lose every servant in the house; you must go.
Oh, I'm so sorry you are going--we'll miss you so--we've all been such friends
I must say, the young gentleman (for so I think I may call him, notwithstanding his birth) appears to me a very modest, civil lad, and I should be sorry that he should do himself any injury in Squire Allworthy's opinion.
But it was all very confusing, and not quite pleasant, so that Pollyanna was glad, indeed, when at last she found herself outside in the hushed, sweet air--only she was very sorry, too: for she knew it was not going to be easy, or anything but sad, to tell Jimmy Bean to-morrow that the Ladies' Aid had decided that they would rather send all their money to bring up the little India boys than to save out enough to bring up one little boy in their own town, for which they would not get "a bit of credit in the report," according to the tall lady who wore spectacles.
Various different emotions make us cry, and therefore it cannot be true to say, as James does, that we "feel sorry because we cry," since sometimes we cry when we feel glad.
Most unintentionally, but I am as sorry as if I had meant to do it.
That pretty sympathetic nature which could be so sorry for him in the blight of their childish hopes of happiness together, and could so quietly find itself alone in a new world to weave fresh wreaths of such flowers as it might prove to bear, the old world's flowers being withered, would be grieved by those sorrowful jewels; and to what purpose?
Her worthy lord stretched his neck and eyes until she had crossed the yard, and then, not at all sorry to have had this opportunity of carrying his point, and asserting the sanctity of his castle, fell into an immoderate fit of laughter, and laid himself down to sleep again.
It added that not saying sorry is costing UK motorists at least pounds 28m a year in increased premiums.
Sorry for pushing a costly assembly on the people of Wales so as to divide us up into Euro units.
Yet another talking head with a shrill, painful delivery, Bloom wins this year's Golden Beak award for oozing to the crying mother of a murder victim: ``I'm sorry we have to put this on our airwaves.
As with Sorry Day, events took place all over Australia, developed by small groups, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, who enlisted others, raised the money and organized publicity.