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What is the difference between remorse and regret?  I could look it up, but I trust you guys more.


( 36 comments — Leave a comment )
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Dec. 14th, 2012 03:20 pm (UTC)
Regret is about what you've done/haven't done. Remorse is more about how you feel about yourself as the type of person who did or didn't do something.

I think it's sort of like the difference between shame and guilt.
Dec. 14th, 2012 07:49 pm (UTC)
Dec. 14th, 2012 03:26 pm (UTC)
Remorse is feeling really badly about something you've done.

Regret can by contrast be a sense of wishing you HAD done something, or a sense of wishing you hadn't.

Remorse seems overall more of an afterthought, though. Regret you can feel AS you are doing something. "I regret to inform you..."

Remorse is definitely associated with the terrible infliction of guilt upon oneself.
Dec. 14th, 2012 07:51 pm (UTC)
I like the distinction between regret and remorse based on immediacy -- though you can be "remorseless" in the moment -- I guess that's a word cognate to "ruthless" -- maybe meaning I am doing it and will never look back in guilt OR shame.
Dec. 14th, 2012 03:40 pm (UTC)
You can regret other people's actions or the blind workings of fate. You can feel remorse only for your own wrong choices.
Dec. 14th, 2012 07:44 pm (UTC)
Yes -- good point.
Dec. 14th, 2012 03:55 pm (UTC)
I agree: "regret" doesn't have a normative association, except insofar as, patently, one believes that one didn't take the best course of action, on the basis of which one might think that one did not act wisely. rg
Dec. 14th, 2012 04:50 pm (UTC)
Remorse definitely has an element of guilt.
Dec. 14th, 2012 04:51 pm (UTC)
Etymologically, regret seems the broader idea of memory, ""to remember with distress or longing," c.1300, from O.Fr. regreter "long after, bewail, lament someone's death," from re-, intensive prefix + -greter, possibly from Frankish (cf. O.E. grætan "to weep;" O.N. grata "to weep, groan")"

... while remorse is directly linked to conscience: "late 14c., from O.Fr. remors (Fr. remords), from M.L. remorsum, from neuter pp. of L. remordere "to vex, disturb," lit. "to bite back," from re- "back" + mordere "to bite" (see smart (v.)). The sense evolution was via the Medieval Latin phrase remorsus conscientiæ (translated into Middle English as ayenbite of inwit)."

Although regret does seem to have picked up some of the connotations of regret for one's own actions, making more like classical remorse.
Dec. 14th, 2012 07:47 pm (UTC)
It means a coming to understand one's transgressions or foolishness, which hurts. But Nathan Hale says "My only regret is that I have but one life to give for my country" -- so he's just assessing what would have been a better situation (that he had two or many lives) -- it's not something he can be faulted or fault himself for.
Dec. 14th, 2012 04:57 pm (UTC)
I agree that regret is more general; remorse, to me, is specific to feeling bad about one's own behavior. I can regret how a whole situation turned out, or that I never became an astronaut, but I only have remorse for things I actually did myself that were wrong of me.
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - crowleycrow - Dec. 14th, 2012 07:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 14th, 2012 06:42 pm (UTC)
Remorse gnaws. It has teeth: the Aȝenbite of Inwit.

Regret is pervasive. It weeps: "sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt."

Dec. 14th, 2012 07:48 pm (UTC)
Yes -- true.
(no subject) - anselmo_b - Dec. 14th, 2012 08:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - crowleycrow - Dec. 15th, 2012 12:58 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - crowleycrow - Dec. 15th, 2012 01:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - undyingking - Dec. 18th, 2012 10:06 am (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 14th, 2012 08:45 pm (UTC)
Remorse is a special case of regret - it's more personal, a regret-with-guilt-about-something-*I*-have-done (or not done). I can regret, for instance, the existence of concentration camps such as Auschwitz or the institution of slavery, but I can't feel remorse for either because I had nothing to do with them. I think remorse is more a sense of regretting a personal agency, a personal responsibility, rather than just feeling sorry that something - be it a global tragedy or the closing down of your favourite bookstore - has occurred somewhere in your worldview.
Dec. 15th, 2012 12:29 am (UTC)
I think "regret" is internally-directed, about things and decisions that directly affect only yourself; and "remorse" involves others: things that you have done (or not done...) to others.
Dec. 15th, 2012 01:05 am (UTC)
That's an interesting distinction and I think useful. You can posit general regret about others' actions ("Regrettably, the wrong party won the election") but "I regret" is about your own actions or choices as they affect you. "I regret that I had to devote myself entirely to getting to the top by any means possible. Now I feel remorse about my wife and children having been neglected and my former associates ruined and their children begging on the street."
Dec. 15th, 2012 06:30 pm (UTC)
Remorse is for personal moral wrongdoing. Regret is for anything that didn't go well or could have gone better, including mistakes, missed opportunities, unavoidable circumstances, etc., not necessarily having sinned.
Crystal Thomas
Dec. 15th, 2012 06:31 pm (UTC)
Simply put...

Regret - feeling bad for something you didn't do or didn't occur as you wished.

Remorse - feeling bad for something you did do or didn't turn out the way you wanted it to.

Dec. 16th, 2012 01:43 am (UTC)
Is the woman in THE GORGON AND THE HEROES by Giulio Aristide Sartorio (Italian painter)a Ker? The obvious symbolism in this painting is driving me mad because I don't understand it.
Dec. 16th, 2012 02:46 pm (UTC)
Re: Kers
Well you got me. I think that the Ker was basically a personification of a passion, usually a destructive one, but always pictured as female -- a hypostasis. The Gorgon wouldn;t have been such a hypostasis, she was just a mean ugly monster who represented, well, being a mean ugly monster. (That she was a female one doesn't particularize her much in my opinion -- there were lots of mean ugly male monsters.) None of this solves the riddle of this painting, in which the female figure might be mean but certainly isn't ugly, has big hair but not serpents. She's winged (just the feet) like a Ker but the Gorgons had wings too. I think she's a romantic-decadent female dominatrix, destructive, sapping male energy and strength (Sartorio's other pictures suggest he was drawn to such concepts) like the women in Beardsley or Moreau. And the Ker is perfect for that idea. Why the heroes int he painting are so dark I don't know, but they are obviously sapped and enervated rather than having been turned to stone. My thought? You don't understand it because Sartorio didn't understand or chose to ignore the story he was picturing.
Re: Kers - crowleycrow - Dec. 16th, 2012 03:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Kers - (Anonymous) - Dec. 16th, 2012 05:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Kers - crowleycrow - Dec. 17th, 2012 05:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 17th, 2012 08:40 pm (UTC)
Kers, Medusas, and Implosions
I did my full write up at www.whenwealllivedintheforestandnoonelivedanywhereelse.com. I really loved those books and I will read them again soon. I REGRET I had not read them earlier.
Dec. 18th, 2012 01:13 am (UTC)
Re: Kers, Medusas, and Implosions
Well I regret how long it took to write them. But no remorse for their existence,
Dec. 21st, 2012 01:26 am (UTC)
I can imagine a convict before a parole board being "regrettably without remorse." But I can barely imagine how one might be "remorsefully without regret."
Dec. 21st, 2012 01:38 am (UTC)
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