What is the English expression or exclamation to refer to something that has gone wrong or a missed opportunity, or something that we could have done better than we actually did?

I'm specifically wondering about an English equivalent of the Italian interjections “Mannaggia!” and “Che peccato!”

  • Managgia is one of those words difficult to translate, but the closest I can think of is dammit!
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 21, 2013 at 22:02

4 Answers 4


To Shyam's list (alas, my bad, and oops) I would add

  • alas and alack - a bit more dramatic than the already-dramatic alas
  • what a pity or what a shame
  • oh no or uh oh
  • d'oh (for fans of The Simpsons)
  • shucks or aw, shucks (esp. to signify embarrassment on the part of a simple or unsophisticated person)
  • woe is me (in mock despair)

To add a sense of disgust as well as disappointment, one could use

  • rats
  • drat
  • phooey
  • yuck

Of course, you have onomatopoeic words like argh, ugh, hrmph, or bleah and all manner of profanity. Some euphemisms have come into their own as "dictionary words" as well, like

  • dagnabbit, doggone it, goshdarnit, or goldurnit (for goddammit)
  • jiminy cricket, jiminy Christmas, or jeepers (for Jesus Christ)
  • shoot (for shit)
  • Alas - "Expressing misfortune" (Chambers)
  • My bad! - "A phrase used to acknowledge one has made a mistake." (Chambers)
  • Oops! or Oops-a-daisy - same as alas.
  • 1
    Oh my ears and whiskers! - When you notice how late it's getting (C. L. Dodgson) - variant on "Oh, my stars and garters!" Jul 5, 2012 at 19:08
  • 1
    -1 because I'm over 50 and in my whole life I doubt I've ever heard anyone use "Alas!" except facetiously. Personally, I also despise "My bad!", which I think is primarily used by non-native speakers and illiterates, but that may be just because I'm over 50. And "Oops-a-daisy!" is for Mommies using baby-talk to their children. You should have just left it at "Oops!". Jul 5, 2012 at 23:07
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers: The q. does not say if it's spoken or written English, I've seen "alas" in wr. Eng. many times. But then, as you say, I am an Indian youngster, so our choices are bound to differ significantly...
    – Bravo
    Jul 6, 2012 at 3:46
  • 1
    I'm kinda w/ FF on Alas. However, My bad! is in the popular lexicon. If folks over 50 don't like it, well, its their traditional job to not like lingustic change. That doesn't mean anyone else is listening.
    – T.E.D.
    Jul 6, 2012 at 15:54

Expressions of this type include: "What a pity" (an almost literal translation of Che peccato) and the softer "Too bad."

  • p.s. It's always "peccato", never "peccata" ;)
    – A_nto2
    Jul 6, 2012 at 6:03
  • @A_nto2: Ok, fixed.
    – Tom Au
    Jul 6, 2012 at 13:20

One expression for a remark that occurs to you once it's too late to say it is an "esprit de l'escalier". It's also (approximately) the name of a restaurant in a book by Douglas Adams.

  • I like the term, but it doesn't really fit what the OP asked for, since it's not an exclamation type of expression, and it is too localized.
    – Daniel
    Jul 6, 2012 at 18:52
  • OP asked for an expression or exclamation. I answered with an expression. And what makes you think it's localised? Jul 7, 2012 at 2:00
  • Well, the OP isn't very used to English, and the context of the question (translating "Mannaggia!" and "Che peccato!") points only toward exclamations and interjections in a certain type of situation; not terms for such situations. I suspect the OP's use of "expression" here is misconceived. It's too localized because it only refers to a remark that occurs to you once it's too late to say it, and couldn't be broadly applied to the realm of Mannaggia! and Che peccato! (i.e. any sort of situation, not just a remark).
    – Daniel
    Jul 7, 2012 at 2:24
  • I'll have to take your word for it; I don't speak Italian. I simply answered (correctly, I might add) the question as it was posed in the body of the original posting. If reading the question correctly and answering it correctly earns downvotes on this site, then so be it. Jul 7, 2012 at 4:37
  • I see what you mean about the original question. However, sometimes inexperienced posters put info in the title that doesn't appear in the body of the post. That shouldn't affect your answer. I just edited it to put the info from the title into the post, so now it's clearer that the OP is looking for equivalents of Mannaggia! and Che peccato!, not terms.
    – Daniel
    Jul 7, 2012 at 14:25

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