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Roi Marphille

Senior Member
Catalonia, Catalan.

I don't reckon to have heard this adverb in a conversation but I have read it in some books.
what's the story about this odd adverb?
do you use it everywhere... UK, USA, Australia..?
young people, old people..?


  • Sean Brian Kirby

    English, United States
    I am 34, relatively young, and have been known to use it. It is admittedly of old usage, but serves its purpose, which is to say, "regretfully." Of course, I also have been calling people "cats" since my late-teens. Just none-too-keen on the word, "dude." ;)


    Senior Member
    English UK
    It's a bit mock-heroic though, SBK, wherever it comes from. "Alas, woe is me, all is doom and despondency, wherefore art thou fortune ?". Nowadays surely we'd just say 'Aw shit'.


    Senior Member
    US English (German/French)
    Amityville has got the right line here. "Alas" is more often written than spoken; and there is a bit of the mock-heroic in it, as when a sports writer says: "But alas, in the fourth quarter, the Broncos passing game ran out of steam".



    Senior Member
    English (England)
    Yes, I agree with the above. "Alas" is a bit tongue in cheek but definitely still said - in the UK anyway.


    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I find it rather akin to "woe is me!"

    Meaning clear, to be used sparingly (most of the time somewhat sarcastically).


    Senior Member
    English, Hodgepodge
    Kelly B said:
    I would be very surprised to hear alas from the mouth of an American.
    What's this? I heard it quite often, even in mundane situations, "I had a hankering for a milkshake, and I even drove to the old drugstore, but--alas! It was closed. Bought by Walgreens."



    Senior Member
    UK, English
    If you really want to turn up the mock-heroism, add an 'alack': 'I went back to the town I grew up in with my wife and tried taking her to my favourite cafe, but alas alack! it had been taken over by Starbucks'.

    (Caution: this is really heavy--not to be taken seriously.)


    Senior Member
    May I add that it comes from the French "hélas", not obsolete in French ?
    Probably composed from "hé" = "hey" + "las"= "tired, sad".
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