Take this situation;

Everyone was given ice cream at the birthday party, except for Todd. After Todd got home, he felt very disheartened that he never got the chance to taste the ice-cream there. He really desired it and now it left a hole in his heart.

Think of it as feeling you get after a "missed opportunity" or "missed chance". You can never have it again in your life. Now the mark this situation would give a person, is there a word for it?

I'm guessing "yearning", "longing" and "hankering" would win here (perhaps I'm actually looking for them?) Or is there a more specific word regarding that situation or feeling?

  • 3
    Unfulfilled desire?
    – Kris
    Jun 20, 2016 at 6:56
  • There are two main scenarios : either it is your fault, or it is not. If it is, you're experiencing regret. If it's not, you're just disappointed. And these are two concepts quite different. In the first case, it can tear you up from inside, while it's way more easy to accept in the second case. Which one are you looking for, something you could have had but didn't because you didn't do what was needed, or something you just missed because of bad luck?
    – Azami
    Jun 24, 2016 at 12:22
  • The closest word I can think of is saudade, but it's not an English word. It's a deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves.
    – Tucker
    Jun 24, 2016 at 13:33

4 Answers 4


Focusing on what one is left with after the initial disappointment, your description is almost the exact definition of regret:

Regret (n): a feeling of sadness, repentance, or disappointment over something that has happened or been done (especially a loss or missed opportunity).

Although, this may not meet your needs, since regret is often used in relation to one's own actions and people forget that one can regret something that has happened to oneself. I also might not pack the punch you are looking for.

The verb, to rue packs a punch (with some added animosity):

Rue (v): To bitterly regret.

Technically, it can be a noun, but its use, in this form, is archaic.

Oh wait, are you looking for pining?

Pine (v): Suffer a mental and physical decline, especially because of a broken heart. Miss and long for the return of.

I suppose you could also use ache, which would highlight the internal pain/anguish of the loss.

  • Pining sounds good. I know that word, btw. But I have never really deeply analyzed. Good call, though. :)
    – E.Groeg
    Jun 26, 2016 at 8:17
  • Yeah, I was surprised by the severity of the definition, myself, when I looked it up. Jun 28, 2016 at 5:50
  • Completely irrelevant to the main question,shouldn't the title be " What is "the" word for something..." The indefinite article sounds odd to me. Anybody else? Aug 18, 2020 at 11:36

Such a disappointment would deserve a word like bringdown, bummer or bitter pill (to swallow).


a disappointment or disillusionment; letdown:
It was quite a bringdown to find myself running last in the mayoral race.


A disappointing or unpleasant situation or experience:
the team’s relegation is a real bummer

bitter pill

An unpleasant or painful necessity (to accept).
‘It is a bitter pill to swallow but it is necessary to cut back and balance the books,’ he said.



You couldn't quite say it was a "missed opportunity" or a "missed chance". That's because---as you have stated initially---

"Everyone except Tom was given the ice cream." Tom, in other words, couldn't do much about it.

There have already been potential answers to this one. I, for my part, am adding this favourite verb of mine for such situations-- "jones".

Tom was jonesing for the ice cream.


MEAGER 2a: lacking desirable qualities (such as richness or strength) 2.b: deficient in quality or quantity


  1. less plentiful than what is normal, necessary, or desirable

BEREFT 2. utterly lacking in something needed, wanted, or expected

  • 1
    It would improve the answer to include the source of those definitions. Aug 18, 2020 at 8:09

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