Alas Definition and Meaning: What Is Alas?

Definition of ALAS

used to express unhappiness, pity, or concern

Adv.1.alas - by bad luck; "unfortunately it rained all day"; "alas, I cannot stay"

alas

adverb sadly, unfortunately, inopportunely Alas, it's not that simple.

An exclamation expressive of sorrow, grief, pity, concern, or apprehension of evil: in old writers sometimes followed by the day or the while: as, alas the day, alas

interj. Used to express sorrow, regret, grief, compassion, or apprehension of danger or evil.

Alas meaning

The interjection alas expresses grief or regret resulting from something described. It’s essentially an archaic way of saying, “Oh no!” so it should always be associated with something negative. For modern writers, it is difficult to use alas without creating an ironic or pretentious tone, but the word is not as far gone as many similar archaisms, and it still appears somewhat often.

Alas Examples

Alas works well in these sentences because it is followed by something the writer finds unfortunate:

Alas, catfish football is no more. [Miami Herald]

Alas, James had finals and couldn’t attend. [ESPN]

It’s usually best to separate alas from the surrounding sentence with commas (or a single comma if alas begins or ends a sentence), but the word is occasionally used as an adverb similar to sadly—for example:

The former seems alas the more likely bit of conjecture, but let’s play around with the second. [Guardian]

Like most interjections, alas also works as a standalone sentence—for example:

Alas! If a witty riposte or soulful rebuke could shut down a drunken bully, history would have played out very differently, my dear. [Boston Globe]

Alas Meaning and Definition from WordNet (r) 2.0

alas adv : by bad luck; "unfortunately it rained all day"; "alas, I cannot stay" [syn: unfortunately, unluckily, regrettably] [ant: fortunately, fortunately]

Alas Meaning and Definition from Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)

Alas \A*las"\, interj. [OE. alas, allas, OF. alas, F. h['e]las; a interj. (L. ah.) + las wretched (that I am), L. lassus weary, akin to E. late. See Late.] An exclamation expressive of sorrow, pity, or apprehension of evil; -- in old writers, sometimes followed by day or white; alas the day, like alack a day, or alas the white.

KJV Dictionary Definition: alas

alas

ALAS', ex.

An exclamation expressive of sorrow, grief, pity, concern, or apprehension of evil; sometimes followed by day or while; alas the day, like alack a day; or alas the while, expressing an unhappy time.

But I said, “Alas, Sovereign Lord! The prophets keep telling them, ‘You will not see the sword or suffer famine. Indeed, I will give you lasting peace in this place.’”

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