com·​pas·​sion·​ate | \ kəm-ˈpa-sh(ə-)nət How to pronounce compassionate (audio) \

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 How to pronounce compassionate (audio) \
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

Adjective a compassionate person by nature a compassionate smile made the refugees feel a little better Verb a gentle soul who could compassionate even the most reprobate of scoundrels and villains
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective When shame is talking, then that's your cue to start looking for other, wiser, more compassionate, and more productive voices. The Washington Post, "Carolyn Hax Live," 18 June 2020 This is a chance to look into the future in a sensible, compassionate, human-first way. Wired Staff, Wired, "After the Virus: How We'll Learn, Age, Move, Listen, and Create," 18 June 2020 Residents in a small homeless encampment at the landfill will be relocated from the property in August with the help of charitable agencies in a process that the planners said would be dignified and compassionate. Steven Litt, cleveland, "Cleveland Metroparks approves plan to turn Old Brooklyn landfill into 26-acre park with Towpath link," 18 June 2020 The women had been given an exemption in the U.K. to leave quarantine on compassionate grounds before they were tested for coronavirus. Greg Norman | Fox News, Fox News, "New Zealand pair who led to coronavirus quarantine blunder actually met with friends, officials reveal," 17 June 2020 They were placed in an isolation hotel in Auckland upon arrival but were permitted to leave it on compassionate grounds. Sophie Jeong, CNN, "New Zealand reports two new coronavirus cases after UK travelers test positive," 16 June 2020 The Smith boys - giving voice to a compassionate community. David Clark Scott, The Christian Science Monitor, "Monday Sunrise Briefing: Injustice protests reignited in Atlanta," 15 June 2020 Carson said President Trump is committed to working toward a more professional and compassionate culture around policing in America but will always defend the rights of officers working to keep communities safe. Dominick Mastrangelo, Washington Examiner, "Ben Carson says when he had 'the talk' about police officers with his sons it was about respecting the force," 14 June 2020 For Shantideva and his fellow Mahayana Buddhists – the predominant branch of Buddhism in north and central Asia – this involves cultivating a wise understanding of the interdependence of things and a compassionate concern for all sentient beings. Matthew Mackenzie, The Conversation, "Indian philosophy helps us see clearly, act wisely in an interconnected world," 10 June 2020 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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Time Traveler for compassionate

Time Traveler

The first known use of compassionate was in 1579

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Statistics for compassionate

Last Updated

24 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Compassionate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for compassionate


How to pronounce compassionate (audio)

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 How to pronounce compassionate (audio) \

Kids Definition of compassionate

: having or showing pity for and desire to help someone

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Comments on compassionate

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