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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 periodicals archive ?
We are sorry to tell you that the UK CHARITY PREMIERE Of LEMONY SNICKET'S A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS will unfortunately take place as follows: Thursday, 16th December UCI EMPIRE, LEICESTER SQUARE And even sorrier to advise that this extremely unpleasant event will be attended by: JIM CARREY, MERYL STREEP, TIMOTHY SPALL EMILY BROWNING, LIAM AIKEN and BRAD SILBERLING Press Pens Open: 4.
McNally closed his door on the issue with a terse statement to the Oblates: "I am indeed sorry if it has been lost to me the friendship of Oblate Fathers whom I esteem and sorrier still if through it I have done a wrong to anybody.
It is in the area of pop's emotive qualities, however, that Frith again commits sweeping gender generalizations by asserting that "women singers are heard to have a pathos of vulnerability that men lack--they can make us feel sorrier for them" (p.
They no longer do what they are good at, and they are sorrier for it.
She showed signs of remorse during the last few episodes, and she seems even sorrier now about using a voting bloc to knock out the others.
Donnellan apologized: "Don't blame me for no one can be sorrier for it than I am myself but sure I did not know what I was doing.
And some of the sorrier aspects shouldn't detract from the excellent work done by many news organizations.
Hell, yes, the country was in a sorry way, and Washington sorrier still.
However, I'm even sorrier to hear that COUNTRYSIDE hasn't been fulfilling one of its primary missions: helping people--or at least this person--cope with tough times.
But if there were, they would tell an even sorrier story than the European numbers.
They would have been sorrier still had Sofiane Feghouli not pulled wide of the post after Canales' through ball deserved better, Tremmel slow to react and relieved when the Alegerian blew his one-on-one chance.
HM should feel sorrier for those who have lost their jobs and savings thanks to Fred, not to mention the mullah we've all had to shell out to prop up the bank he ruined.
I feel sorrier still for servicemen, many sacked only days before they became entitled to a lump sum and a pension, who are being asked to save the day.