adjective ap·a·thet·ic \ ˌa-pə-ˈthe-tik \
|Updated on: 2 Aug 2018

Definition of apathetic

1 : having or showing little or no feeling or emotion : spiritless
  • She was listless, apathetic, calm with the calmness of a woman who knows she can suffer no further.
  • —Frank Norris
2 : having little or no interest or concern : indifferent
  • apathetic voters
  • apathetic underachievers


play \-ti-k(ə-)lē\ adverb

Examples of apathetic in a Sentence

  1. But contrary to popular belief, not all jocks are as apathetic as they are athletic. One such progressive player is Toni Smith, a college basketball player who turned her back on Old Glory every time the national anthem was played before her games last season. In a written statement, she cited America's systemic inequalities as her reason for not saluting the flag. ComplexJune/July 2003
  2. The disorder is sometimes inherited via a defective gene from one parent, and patients are usually spared signs of the disorder until they reach their fifties. Because the brain-cell loss occurs in parts of the brain that help regulate social behavior, personality changes are the most common manifestations of the illness. Patients tend to become either uninhibited or apathetic. —Bruce L. MillerDiscoverJanuary 1998
  3. But in cities such as Boston, Cincinnati, Oakland, San Francisco, and Seattle, reformers are trying to recharge an apathetic electorate by taking aim at the very process of voting itself. —Wilma Rule et al.Ms.September/October 1996
  4. Young people are becoming increasingly apathetic.

  5. the apathetic attitude of the public

  6. Surprisingly, most Americans are apathetic toward this important issue.

Recent Examples of apathetic from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'apathetic.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Discover If You're apathetic

Apathy, or lack of emotion, is central to Albert Camus's famous novel The Stranger, in which the main character's indifference toward almost everything, including his mother's death, results in his imprisonment. We feel little sympathy for him, and may even feel antipathy, or dislike. The American voter is often called apathetic; of all the industrial democracies, only in America does half the adult population fail to vote in major elections. As you can see, apathetic isn't the opposite of pathetic, even though the a- that it begins with means "not" or "without".

Origin and Etymology of apathetic

see apathy

Synonym Discussion of apathetic

impassive, stoic, phlegmatic, apathetic, stolid mean unresponsive to something that might normally excite interest or emotion. impassive stresses the absence of any external sign of emotion in action or facial expression.
    • met the news with an impassive look
stoic implies an apparent indifference to pleasure or especially to pain often as a matter of principle or self-discipline.
    • was resolutely stoic even in adversity
phlegmatic implies a temperament or constitution hard to arouse.
    • a phlegmatic man unmoved by tears
apathetic may imply a puzzling or deplorable indifference or inertness.
    • charitable appeals met an apathetic response
stolid implies a habitual absence of interest, responsiveness, or curiosity.
    • stolid workers wedded to routine

APATHETIC Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of apathetic for English Language Learners

  • : not having or showing much emotion or interest

Medical Dictionary


adjective ap·a·thet·ic \ ˌap-ə-ˈthet-ik \

medical Definition of apathetic

: having or showing little or no feeling or emotion


play \-i-k(ə-)lē\ adverb

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