When you can have the thing you want, but you choose a close second, now you are left dissatisfied with the action or object.

Another way of thinking about it is, dissatisfaction caused by choosing something other than what you actually wanted.


I wanted a salad, but I chose a taco pizza, now I am feeling unsatisfied with my lunch.

I wanted to paint a blue flower, but instead, I chose to paint a purple flower, now I am unhappy with they way my painting looks.

Possible word:

Sublimate (divert or modify an instinctual impulse into a culturally higher or socially more acceptable activity).

-- This word feels lacking and inadequate for the complexity of the situation.

  • 1
    I think you got your lunches backwards.... – Hellion Jun 16 '17 at 20:42
  • "Feeling stupid" – Hot Licks Jun 16 '17 at 22:29
  • @Hellion, LOL- Right! – TheGrumpyTurtle Jun 17 '17 at 2:04

You might be regretting your choice:



[WITH OBJECT] 1. Feel sad, repentant, or disappointed over (something that one has done or failed to do)
‘she immediately regretted her words’
[with clause] ‘I always regretted that I never trained’

You might also be feeling remorseful:



[mass noun]

Deep regret or guilt for a wrong committed.
‘they were filled with remorse and shame’



Filled with remorse; sorry.
‘the defendant was remorseful for what he had done’

There's also buyer's remorse, although that is not exactly what you're looking for:

buyer's remorse


[mass noun]

A feeling of regret experienced after making a purchase, typically one regarded as unnecessary or extravagant.
‘the winning bidder might well have a case of buyer's remorse’ figurative ‘a lot of people have buyer's remorse about re-electing him’

  • None of these means 'dissatisfaction caused by choosing something other than what you actually wanted' and synonyms for 'dissatisfied / dissatisfavtion' are not appropriate answers on a site aimed at linguists. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 16 '17 at 21:51
  • @EdwinAshworth -- No one had come up with a word that meant 'dissatisfaction caused by choosing something other than what you actually wanted' so I thought I would suggest some words that could perhaps, with some reworking, be useful to the OP. If that's not the way the site works, that's cool. Although, the help page on answering notes that "Any answer that gets the asker going in the right direction is helpful, but do try to mention any limitations, assumptions or simplifications in your answer." Perhaps I am just unclear on what makes a good answer. – Roger Sinasohn Jun 16 '17 at 22:51
  • Also, I'm not sure that any of the suggestions I made are really synonyms for "dissatisfied" or "dissatisfaction". – Roger Sinasohn Jun 16 '17 at 22:54
  • There is a sister site, ELL, on which "Are there synonyms for 'dissatisfaction'?" (or very similar questions, without the caveat about 'by choosing something other than what you actually wanted', might be acceptable if the question were accompanied by reasonable research. If we 'tried our best to help' every OP, we would end up answering the question about the best way to keep goldfish someone once posted. Not all English language questions / re-interpreted questions are appropriate on a site intended for linguists. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 16 '17 at 22:55
  • @EdwinAshworth -- And if I gave this answer to that question, I would expect to be downvoted, especially since the words I suggested are not synonyms. Instead, they, hopefully, offer a different path to explore in order to find the best word or phrase to suit the OP's needs. But you've obviously been here a lot longer than I have so I'll just go away and leave you your sandbox. – Roger Sinasohn Jun 16 '17 at 23:00

The emotion of regretting a choice perceived as suboptimal is the source of much scholarly analysis. If the other choice may have been better, regret is due to a "foregone alternative". If the other choice was the actual desired one, regret is due to a "preferred alternative".

Given that those who study this emotion in detail have yet to reduce it to a single word, there may not be one. However, there is an occasionally seen phrase that may be applicable to those who regret taking the "better safe than sorry" route: (Reuters, “American who leaked NSA secrets is a free man in Hong Kong - for now,” June 12, 2013.):

Speaking after Russia said it would consider granting asylum to the American, Robertson told Reuters: "Mr Snowden would doubtless be safe-but-sorry in North Korea and might find refuge in Russia. A more pleasant environment would be New Zealand where he could join Kim Dotcom in resisting extradition."

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