ap·​a·​thet·​ic | \ ˌa-pə-ˈthe-tik How to pronounce apathetic (audio) \

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

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Other Words from apathetic

apathetically \ ˌa-​pə-​ˈthe-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce apathetically (audio) \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

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".

Examples of apathetic in a Sentence

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. Complex, June/July 2003 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. Miller, Discover, January 1998 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 Young people are becoming increasingly apathetic. the apathetic attitude of the public Surprisingly, most Americans are apathetic toward this important issue.
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Recent Examples on the Web Cosmopolis won, to its own satisfaction and the apathetic disregard of folk at large. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, "Philip Guston and the Boundaries of Art Culture," 12 Oct. 2020 For an art form that was nurtured in the streets and is apathetic about (if not antagonistic to) institutional prestige, the 14th Street Graffiti Museum, with its humble digs, feels true to graffiti’s under-the-radar, after-midnight origins. Washington Post, "A new museum celebrates D.C.’s graffiti artists, past and present," 30 Sep. 2020 The Celtics meandered through the first half without much purpose, settling for 3-pointers and playing apathetic defense. Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY, "Boston Celtics fight off elimination in Game 5 of Eastern Conference finals vs. Miami Heat," 26 Sep. 2020 At least 190,000 Americans have since died from COVID-19, hurried to their graves by Trump’s faltering, apathetic response to the pandemic. Timothy L. O’brien Bloomberg Opinion (tns), Star Tribune, "Of course Trump couldn't resist Bob Woodward," 11 Sep. 2020 On the other side, negative or apathetic public reaction can also compound feelings of shame and humiliation, which can in turn silence survivors, sometimes for years or even a lifetime. Alia E. Dastagir, USA TODAY, "Four years later, women are still accusing Trump of sexual assault. Here's why that matters.," 28 Aug. 2020 Likewise, the seats' massage function kneaded with the same enthusiasm as an apathetic spouse. Eric Stafford, Car and Driver, "Tested: 2020 BMW Alpina B7 Upends the 7-Series Hierarchy," 9 Sep. 2020 In a speech in Pittsburgh, Biden sought to undermine a major argument from the Trump campaign that the former vice president is apathetic at best about violence ravaging American cities and businesses. Kathryn Watson, CBS News, "Biden blames Trump for "stoking violence in our cities" in Pittsburgh speech," 31 Aug. 2020 Later in the afternoon, nit-picking Mercury faces off with apathetic Neptune, creating struggles between people who care and those who couldn’t care less. Tarot Astrologers, chicagotribune.com, "Daily horoscope for August 30, 2020," 30 Aug. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of apathetic

1692, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for apathetic

borrowed from New Latin apathēticus, from a- a- entry 2 + pathēticus pathetic, after apathīa apathy

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Time Traveler for apathetic

Time Traveler

The first known use of apathetic was in 1692

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Statistics for apathetic

Last Updated

18 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Apathetic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apathetic. Accessed 25 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for apathetic


How to pronounce apathetic (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of apathetic

: not having or showing much emotion or interest


ap·​a·​thet·​ic | \ ˌap-ə-ˈthet-ik How to pronounce apathetic (audio) \

Medical Definition of apathetic

: having or showing little or no feeling or emotion

Other Words from apathetic

apathetically \ -​i-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce apathetically (audio) \ adverb

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