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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 )
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)
Dec. 14th, 2012 07:40 pm (UTC)
i like that. I get it.
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.
Dec. 14th, 2012 08:37 pm (UTC)
I may be looking at this too much from my non native speaker pov, but they seem to me so different that I find it difficult having to find paraphrases. Regret is sorrow, Remorse is guilt or regretting out of guilt. In both Spanish and German remorse is called "biting of conscience" and I suppose that morse in remorse is about biting too.
Dec. 15th, 2012 12:58 am (UTC)
As ion "morsel" (I just imagined that).
Dec. 15th, 2012 01:16 pm (UTC)
As Tennyson:

...deep as love,
Deep as first love, and wild with all regret;
O Death in Life, the days that are no more!
Dec. 18th, 2012 10:06 am (UTC)
Good, I was hoping someone would have mentioned the agenbite of inwit. Lovely phrase.
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.
Dec. 16th, 2012 03:25 pm (UTC)
Re: Kers
I'd like to see this painting in a larger size and clearer. It seems there ARE snakes (little ones) mixed in with the red hair. And maybe the heroes who are dark have been turned to stone.
Dec. 16th, 2012 05:18 pm (UTC)
Re: Kers
The first time I saw this was in real life, at Musee D'Orsay, in 2001. It was more than life size, probably 15 feet high and 25 feet long, which turns a thumbnail campy picture into the shock of your life because the colors and images were so striking. She has a small set of black wings in her hair, too. No snakes. The men just look dead to me, but she's standing on one, so I think they are meant to be stone. The legends of Medusa will say that she was once a beautiful woman. That's as far as I can get. I will see if I can track down a better resolution on the net. You can't find prints of this picture, and the original is back at the History of Modern Art in Italy -- Rome, I think.

Okay. Here is a lightened version, but the original was very richly colored. http://artandopinion.tumblr.com/post/30939145249/gorgon-and-the-heroes-1895-1899-aristide

Breaking with livejournal protocol, I also have to say that I had only meant to read THE SOLITUDES, but I ended up reading all four, and I am not entirely sure why any other books will ever need to be written by anyone ever again. When I realized how wonderful they were, I bought NEW Copies for me and then as Christmas presents for my friends. It's just a wonder you didn't implode as you wrote these. But thank you. Thank you so much.

Dec. 17th, 2012 05:02 pm (UTC)
Re: Kers
That's about the most extravagant compliment my books have been paid, and I am glad to have it -- those four are dense and slow (some find) and yes I nearly did implode about three-quarters through the third.

I DO see little vipers in her hair, low down on the (her) right side -- no? It's a wonderful picture. It would almos tbe better without a title at all.
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)
Dec. 25th, 2012 01:45 am (UTC)
Remorselessly continuing this thread...
I have experienced buyer's remorse, and apparently buyer's regret is also correct.
Dec. 25th, 2012 11:19 am (UTC)
Re: Remorselessly continuing this thread...
I regret that you have suffered remorse. But not having pressured you into buying that ugly scarf/cute but crappy used car/absurdly costly pair of snakeskin boots I am not remorseful that you feel regret,
Feb. 28th, 2013 07:50 am (UTC)
Regret is I wish I had. Remorse is I wish I hadn't.
Feb. 28th, 2013 11:02 am (UTC)
Very neat!
( 36 comments — Leave a comment )