Definition of “sorry” - English Dictionary

“sorry” in English

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uk /ˈsɒr.i/ us /ˈsɔːr.i/

sorry adjective (SAD)

A2 [ after verb ] feeling sadness, sympathy, or disappointment, especially because something unpleasant has happened or been done:

I'm just sorry about all the trouble I've caused her.
He'd really upset her and he didn't seem at all sorry.
[ + (that) ] I'm sorry (that) you had such a difficult journey.
[ + to infinitive ] We were both sorry to hear you've been ill again.
I feel so sorry for their kids - it must be really hard for them.
feel sorry for yourself disapproving

to feel sad because you have a problem and you feel that it is not fair that you are suffering so much:

He sounded very sorry for himself on the phone.
I'm sorry to say

used to show that something that must be said causes sadness or disappointment:

I'm sorry to say that the project's funding has been cancelled.
Most people who start the exercise class do, I'm sorry to say, give up within the first two weeks.

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sorry adjective (APOLOGY)

A1 [ after verb ] used to say that you wish you had not done what you have done, especially when you want to be polite to someone you have done something bad to:

Oh, I'm sorry - I didn't see you there.
Tom, I'm so sorry about last night - it was all my fault.
I've said I'm sorry.

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sorry adjective (SAYING NO)

I'm sorry

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B2 used to show politeness when refusing something or disagreeing:

I'm sorry, but I think you've made a mistake.
I'm sorry, I can't agree.


uk /ˈsɒr.i/ us /ˈsɔːr.i/

sorry exclamation (POLITE NEGATIVE)

used to show politeness when refusing something or disagreeing:

Sorry, you can't go in there.

used when politely asking someone to repeat something or when politely interrupting someone:

"He's late." "Sorry?" "I said he's late."
Sorry, could you just say that last sentence again please?

(Definition of “sorry” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

“sorry” in American English

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us /ˈsɑr·i, ˈsɔr·i/

sorry adjective (ASKING FORGIVENESS)

feeling bad because you have caused trouble or difficulty to someone else:

[ + (that) clause ] I’m really sorry (that) I forgot about our appointment yesterday.

Sorry is also used as a polite way to show your sympathy to someone because of a loss, problem, or trouble the person has had:

[ + to infinitive ] We were sorry to learn about the death of your grandmother.

Sorry is also used as a polite way of asking someone to excuse you for having done something that might have annoyed the person:

The train will be moving shortly – we are sorry for the inconvenience.

sorry adjective (POLITE REFUSAL)

used as a polite way of expressing refusal or disagreement:

I’m sorry, but I think you’ve made a mistake in our check.
Sorry, you can’t go in there.

sorry adjective (BAD CONDITION)

[ -er/-est only ] dated so bad as to cause feelings of sympathy:

They were a sorry sight, dressed in rags and so weak they could hardly stand up.
Note: describing a situation or condition

(Definition of “sorry” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)