com·​pas·​sion·​ate | \ kəm-ˈpa-sh(ə-)nət \

Definition of compassionate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : having or showing compassion : sympathetic a compassionate friend a compassionate smile
2 : granted because of unusual distressing circumstances affecting an individual used of some military privileges (such as leave) The soldier was granted compassionate leave following the death of his father.


com·​pas·​sion·​ate | \ kəm-ˈpa-shə-ˌnāt \
compassionated; compassionating

Definition of compassionate (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: pity … even compassionating those who hold in bondage their fellow men …— John Quincy Adams

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Other Words from compassionate


compassionately adverb
compassionateness noun

Examples of compassionate in a Sentence


a compassionate person by nature a compassionate smile made the refugees feel a little better


a gentle soul who could compassionate even the most reprobate of scoundrels and villains
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Behind the scenes, however, former players and staff remember him as a compassionate, fatherly, selfless boss who doted on his people. Sam Walker, WSJ, "Goodbye Swaggering CEOs; Hello Mr. Rogers," 3 Nov. 2018 Luckily, the comments were kind and compassionate, including messages from other moms who shared similar stories and gently suggested taking DD to the doctor for a consultation. Kaleigh Fasanella, Allure, "Mom Shares Story of 6-Year-Old Daughter Wanting to Remove Her Body Hair," 1 Oct. 2018 Like your immediate neighbors, others may be compassionate given more information. New York Times, "When a Mentally Ill Sibling Disturbs the Neighbors," 5 May 2018 The subject matter included everything from Shakespeare to baseball to Kushner’s grim but compassionate story of a woman inmate in a Bay Area facility. Hillel Italie, The Seattle Times, "Rachel Kushner among finalists for book critics prizes," 22 Jan. 2019 Gae's family would like to thank the Sisters and staff at Little Sisters of the Poor at St. Joseph Residence for their wonderful and compassionate care shown to Gae and her family., "Gaetana A. Colombi," 12 July 2018 Some worry about students blurring the lines between compassionate listening and professional counseling. Aneri Pattani,, "College students train to help peers at risk for suicide, depression and more," 12 July 2018 Some worry about students blurring the lines between compassionate listening and professional counseling. Aneri Pattani,, "College students train to help peers at risk for suicide, depression and more," 10 July 2018 Bold when chasing a story, compassionate with the people those stories touched, witty in conversation, and always a professional. J.m. Lawrence,, "Lana Jones, at 62; WBZ reporter ‘stood tall on the landscape of Boston news reporting’," 2 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

At age 49, the Juilliard graduate, who can easily transform from menacing mob boss to compassionate father with a mere expression change, is having the kind of year an actor can only dream about. Nicole Sperling, HWD, "Michael Stuhlbarg Is This Awards Season’s Most Valuable Player," 12 Dec. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'compassionate.' 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 compassionate


1579, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1592, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for compassionate


see compassion


see compassion

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Statistics for compassionate

Last Updated

9 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for compassionate

The first known use of compassionate was in 1579

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More Definitions for compassionate



English Language Learners Definition of compassionate

: feeling or showing concern for someone who is sick, hurt, poor, etc. : having or showing compassion


com·​pas·​sion·​ate | \ kəm-ˈpa-shə-nət \

Kids Definition of compassionate

: having or showing pity for and desire to help someone

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Comments on compassionate

What made you want to look up compassionate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to deny responsibility for

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