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 Nevertheless, compassionate and nondefensive will still be your best position from which to discuss this with them. Carolyn Hax, Washington Post, "Carolyn Hax: They want to move, but their daughter-in-law feels abandoned," 15 Apr. 2020 Solnit writes, describing the compassionate human response that arises in the wake of a catastrophe. Katherine Cusumano, Outside Online, "Earthquakes Can Teach Us About Disaster and Resilience," 22 Mar. 2020 Liberated women are just trying to point out the disaster, and build compassionate and practical alternatives from the ruins. Gloria Steinem, Time, "50 Years Ago, Gloria Steinem Wrote an Essay For TIME About Her Hopes For Women’s Futures. Here’s What She'd Add Today," 5 Mar. 2020 There, 1,500 dedicated staff members provide compassionate and innovative medical, dental, and behavioral health services to 105,000 patients of all backgrounds, in a continuum of care from pediatrics to geriatrics. San Diego Union-Tribune, "A 50th Anniversary Fiesta," 29 Aug. 2019 Remember the ones who were heroic and compassionate, those who chose love over greed and empathy over apathy. Dave Murphy,, "Coronavirus: There’s a lot of crying in our future, if we’re lucky," 23 Apr. 2020 Hospitals have already begun using survivor plasma on a compassionate, experimental basis. Mark Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "'We'd like to get this into patients as soon as possible': Researchers in Pittsburgh have developed a potential coronavirus vaccine," 2 Apr. 2020 Some appear compassionate, like freeing people serving crazy sentences for minor crimes. Mitch Albom, Detroit Free Press, "Mitch Albom: The presidential pardon may have run its course," 23 Feb. 2020 Sinai-Grace Hospital remains dedicated to its mission of providing quality compassionate care to the Detroit community. Jennifer Dixon, Detroit Free Press, "As COVID-19 death toll climbs, Detroit-area hospitals use refrigerated trucks for the dead," 14 Apr. 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

17 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Compassionate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 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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