“Malheureusement, we won’t be able to attend the Christmas party, but we hope to make it for New Year’s.”
“I was almost to the register when — malheureusement — I realized I forgot my wallet at home.”
“Malheureusement, the hotel doesn’t allow pets, but we can leave Charlie at my sister’s house.”
French, early 19th century
Why this word?
Malheureusement, not all dictionaries have remembered the charm of using this French adverb in standard English. The word “malheureusement” (meaning “unfortunately”) entered English usage in the 1800s when it was fashionable to drop French words into conversation, but it didn’t have the lasting power of words such as “café” or “bon appétit.” The loanword, which indicates regret in a charming manner, is best employed when the situation isn’t truly dire, but merely an inconvenience. “Malheureusement, I’m double-booked with a Ping-Pong tournament and a pickleball match that day and can’t attend the retirement party!”
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