So I have looked for the origin of this expression but I want native speakers or people with English studies to answer or give their answers and thoughts on what might be the origin of this expression.

1 Answer 1


Alas comes from Middle English but is still used today. It expresses sorrow or regret, for example "alas, I cannot accept your invitation".

Alack means exactly the same thing, but comes from Old French.

So, saying "alas and alack" is just a way of expressing sorrow but in an exaggerated or over-the-top manner. In modern English, it can sound quite flippant or insincere. As to its origin - a quick Google indicates that the whole phrase appears in writing as far back as the 18th century, but there doesn't seem to be a definite explanation of how the saying came about. However, deliberate tautologies are not uncommon in English - for example, "cease and desist", "stuff and nonsense", "null and void", "safe and sound", "one and only". Many of these are purely for emphasis.

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