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

Obviously, people want to be compassionate about children, about families. Fox News, "Democrats' new rallying cry: 'Abolish ICE'," 30 June 2018 The film, directed by Roland Vranik from a script by Mr. Vranik and Ivan Szabo, is a careful, compassionate and beautifully acted character drama with a social conscience. Iván Szabó, New York Times, "Review: In ‘The Citizen,’ an Immigrant Picks a Bad Time to Fall in Love," 5 July 2018 Chris is nothing but loving and compassionate and is the only person who has stood by me, never judged me, helped me heal and feel whole. Hilary Lewis, The Hollywood Reporter, "Jacinda Barrett Defends Ex-Boyfriend Chris Hardwick Amid Misconduct Scandal," 26 June 2018 Stevon Campbell, Campbell's cousin, urged young men and women to lead more compassionate lives. Holly V. Hays, Indianapolis Star, "'This is devastating to our family': Shooting victim's family prays for end to gun violence," 29 June 2018 Radha’s physicians followed Shire’s protocol for applying for compassionate use exactly as directed on the company’s website. Vibhav Rangarajan, STAT, "The ‘cruel joke’ of compassionate use and right to try: Pharma companies don’t have to comply," 5 June 2018 An addict’s regrets are seldom as strong as his cravings, and the film is a compassionate, apolitical glimpse into the chasm between the two. Jeffrey Fleishman,, "Documentary films explore the despair of America's heroin and opioid epidemic," 6 July 2018 In Kevin Macdonald’s captivating documentary, Whitney, the Oscar-winning director casts a compassionate, but unsparing eye on the multiple Grammy winner, who died in 2012 at 48. Melinda Newman, Billboard, "'Whitney' Director Kevin Macdonald on Capturing Houston's Magical Rise and Tragic Fall," 3 July 2018 Our leaders, are compassionate, understanding, kind, generous but also innovative, knowledgeable and supportive. Fortune, "New American Funding," 26 June 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

5 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

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).


a private place of worship

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