For example, having had long standing plans to attend a late night event, I suddenly realized that I was really tired and it will not be a good idea to attend. While I made the decision to not attend the event, I was filled with regret, despite still being able to attend despite being tired.

I usually understand regret is a feeling about something that happened in the past.

What would you call a feeling that happens about something that is about to happen in the future, where you in theory can avoid it, although perhaps not in practice (since there was some reason to avoid it).

  • You stated, "I usually understand regret is a feeling about something that happened in the past." However regret doesn't have to be restricted to things that happened in the past: "I regret to inform you..." is common usage, when delivering bad news to someone. macmillandictionary.com/us/thesaurus-category/american/…
    – Bread
    Commented Mar 31, 2018 at 2:59

2 Answers 2


In the situation you describe, I would use regret with no qualms. This is perfectly fine, for example:

I’m already regretting my decision to stay home tonight, but I really am too tired to go.

The thing you're regretting is your decision to stay in, which is in the past, so there is no problem.

There's also the colloquial (though not yet dictionary-codified) pregret, which is specifically knowing that you're going to regret doing something that you haven't done yet; but I don't think that quite fits the situation you're talking about here. It's usually used in pretty much the opposite scenario of yours here: going out drinking when you know you'll be kicking yourself for it in the morning.

  • perhaps I have avoided "pregret by going", precisely because I've decided to regret not going instead.
    – Chris
    Commented Oct 8, 2016 at 12:59
  • Another way to say it is "It breaks my heart, but I am really too tired to go".
    – Graffito
    Commented Oct 8, 2016 at 21:24
  • @Graffito Maybe a bit melodramatic if it's just dinner at a friend’s house, but in the right context, sure. Commented Oct 8, 2016 at 21:25
  • You are not wrong. Perhaps, the guy feels that he would have met there the love of his life :(.
    – Graffito
    Commented Oct 8, 2016 at 21:32
  • If you realize you're too tired to go with friend A to visit friend B as planned, you send your regrets. When A gets to B's house, he says, Sorry, so-and-so sends his regrets, he said he felt like he was coming down with a cold. Commented Oct 9, 2016 at 1:01

The word you may be trying to remember is “dread”.

  • Please provide a dictionary definition of dread that suggests an element of anticipatory regret, rather than anticipatory horror or suffering.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Mar 31, 2018 at 4:55
  • Use citations in answers, if you please. Without this may be deleted.
    – lbf
    Commented Mar 31, 2018 at 14:17

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