To regret something is to wish it had never happened. Wish you hadn't reached for that fourth piece of chocolate cake? You regret it.

Regret is often called a useless emotion, because you can only regret what has already taken place. It's too late to change things, so all that's left to do is regret. Regret can also function as a noun, as in the feeling of regret you have when you realize that you should have been nicer to your kid sister and should have not locked her into the dog crate for the afternoon. You often hear people exclaim "No regrets!" when they talk about their life choices, but we're dubious because who doesn't have at least one horrible outfit in their memory that makes them cringe with a feeling of regret?

Definitions of regret

v feel remorse for; feel sorry for; be contrite about

repent, rue
Type of:
experience, feel
undergo an emotional sensation or be in a particular state of mind

v feel sad about the loss or absence of

Type of:
feel or suffer from the lack of

v express with regret

“I regret to say that you did not gain admission to Harvard”
be sorry; used to introduce an unpleasant statement
Type of:
impart knowledge of some fact, state or affairs, or event to

v decline formally or politely

“I regret I can't come to the party”
Type of:
decline, refuse
show unwillingness towards

n sadness associated with some wrong done or some disappointment

“he wrote a note expressing his regret
rue, ruefulness, sorrow
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attrition, contriteness, contrition
sorrow for sin arising from fear of damnation
compunction, remorse, self-reproach
a feeling of deep regret (usually for some misdeed)
guilt, guilt feelings, guilt trip, guilty conscience
remorse caused by feeling responsible for some offense
penance, penitence, repentance
remorse for your past conduct
Type of:
sadness, unhappiness
emotions experienced when not in a state of well-being

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