I am looking for an English word (adj or verb) to describe your feeling when you did not do something you were expected to do. For example:

My friend's uncle has just passed away but I didn't say anything to him when I first heard the news because I was focusing on something else. Now looking back, I feel very bad about it. I should have said something. I feel ______________.

The word is pretty close to 'regret' but it's not 'regret'.

  • 1
    An example sentence with a blank space for the adjective or verb would be good. Otherwise I think this question is too broad.
    – thomj1332
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 14:41
  • 2
    From just reading your question title, I was going to suggest "the joy of procrastination", but... your example was way darker than I was expecting.
    – Patrick M
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 16:46
  • -1 Your example sentence does not match the description of the word request ("describe your feeling when you did not do something you were expected to do"). The "expected to do" part is vague; expected by who, why, when... Yourself, your inner voice, your psyche, someone else the universe? The question is unclear and the example sentence itself, as it stands, can be fitted with 100s of nouns. Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 18:15
  • 1
    Also, perhaps, dismay or consternation.
    – Octopus
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 18:54
  • Why does 'regret' not work? We're not mind-readers - explain more how 'regret' would not be right.
    – Mitch
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 18:58

6 Answers 6


Remorse fits the bill.

From MW:

a gnawing distress arising from a sense of guilt for past wrongs : self-reproach

Oops - per Hank's suggestion: remorseful.

  • 5
    That's technically a noun but maybe Remorseful?
    – Hank
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 16:39
  • 5
    Well, it is certainly possible to feel remorse, just as you can feel anger or happiness or any other emotion. Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 23:03

The classic feeling of shame is perfect for what you are describing.

shame (noun): a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior. ‘he felt a pang of shame at telling Alice a lie’ (Oxford)

Also, mortified works here.

mortification (noun): great embarrassment and shame. (Oxford)

e.g. 'When I thought back on how I handled the situation I was mortified. And even today, I have a lingering feeling of shame.


I would say that you are feeling regretful that you didn't do something you should have done.

re·gret·ful (adj): feeling or showing regret (Oxford)

You also might be feeling disappointed in yourself and your actions.

dis·ap·point·ed (adj): sad or displeased because someone or something has failed to fulfill one's hopes or expectations (Oxford)

Guilt-ridden or guilty would also work, since you are feeling that you should have done something, but didn't.

guilt-rid·den (adj): filled with feelings of guilt (Oxford)
guilt·y (adj): culpable of or responsible for a specified wrongdoing (Oxford)

You may be ashamed that you did not do something that was expected of you.

a·shamed (adj): embarrassed or guilty because of one's actions, characteristics, or associations (Oxford)

A simple feeling sorry might also work in this context.

sor·ry (adj): feeling regret or penitence (Oxford)

Anguish might also work if you are really upset about your action, but that option would lean toward a more extreme feeling.

an·guish(v): be extremely distressed about something (Oxford)


Your first instinct was right.

"I regret not saying something sooner. I'm sorry for your loss."


I'd say "guilt" is the right word here. Although "Regret" could also work, I think in the context of the definition given above, the word "regret" would jarr its use in other situations that could be defined by the same respective moraals. For example, you don't necessarily feel regret for something "you were expected to do", but you can feel a guilt for it, or evoke some other form of remorse.

  • I agree. Guilt is the appropriate answer here because it has the meaning closest to regret. Remorse is more inclined towards sadness of an event that occurred(death), rather than the repercussions of the event(inability to say anything before the death). Commented Jul 28, 2017 at 6:32

Contrite. According to MW:

feeling or showing sorrow and remorse for a sin or shortcoming

  • a contrite criminal
  • a contrite apology
  • contrite sighs


  1. caused by or showing sincere remorse.
  2. filled with a sense of guilt and the desire for atonement; penitent:

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