Definition of forlorn hope in English:

forlorn hope


  • A persistent or desperate hope that is unlikely to be fulfilled.

    ‘he urged them to stay in the forlorn hope of restoring peace’
    • ‘A forlorn hope, I know - but better than no hope at all.’
    • ‘They would be forced to start at the bottom and work their way back up, but at least derby matches would simply be a hope for the future rather than a forlorn hope.’
    • ‘But that now looks a forlorn hope as the player suffered a setback and is unlikely to get many, if any, competitive matches under his belt before the season ends.’
    • ‘Every professional footballer dreams of playing in the World Cup finals, but when you are approaching your 38th birthday and entering the twilight zone, chances are it's a forlorn hope.’
    • ‘‘With hindsight he accepts that that was probably a pretty forlorn hope considering the size of the internet and the number of people that could access it,’ he said.’
    • ‘So we've been prowling the house, from window to window, from door to door, with almost the same forlorn hope as Harry and Dolly that, if we try hard enough, and often enough, the weather will change.’
    • ‘If they get dragged down with this, they will lose their seats, maybe control of Congress, and if that happens, impeachment talk goes from forlorn hope to a bill.’
    • ‘Despite some optimistic noises about finding a buyer, saving it looks a forlorn hope and prospects for the remaining 300 workers and 1,750 pensioners look bleak.’
    • ‘The 10-year-old cat had gone missing shortly after Shirley moved house - leaving her trawling the streets in the forlorn hope of finding him.’
    • ‘It sounds like a forlorn hope, but you never know.’


    Mid 16th century from Dutch verloren hoop ‘lost troop’, from verloren (past participle of verliezen ‘lose’) and hoop ‘company’. The phrase originally denoted a band of soldiers picked to begin an attack, many of whom would not survive; the current sense (mid 17th century), derives from a misunderstanding of the etymology.