pathetic

adjective
pa·​thet·​ic | \ pə-ˈthe-tik How to pronounce pathetic (audio) \

Definition of pathetic

1 : having a capacity to move one to either compassionate or contemptuous pity
2 : marked by sorrow or melancholy : sad
3 : pitifully inferior or inadequate the restaurant's pathetic service
4 : absurd, laughable a pathetic costume

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Other Words from pathetic

pathetical \ pə-​ˈthe-​ti-​kəl How to pronounce pathetical (audio) \ adjective
pathetically \ pə-​ˈthe-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce pathetically (audio) \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for pathetic

moving, impressive, poignant, affecting, touching, pathetic mean having the power to produce deep emotion. moving may apply to any strong emotional effect including thrilling, agitating, saddening, or calling forth pity or sympathy. a moving appeal for contributions impressive implies compelling attention, admiration, wonder, or conviction. an impressive list of achievements poignant applies to what keenly or sharply affects one's sensitivities. a poignant documentary on the homeless affecting is close to moving but most often suggests pathos. an affecting deathbed reunion touching implies arousing tenderness or compassion. the touching innocence in a child's eyes pathetic implies moving to pity or sometimes contempt. pathetic attempts to justify misconduct

Examples of pathetic in a Sentence

The spectacle seen in the theater of the news presented the American President as a failed suppliant instead of a conquering hero—an ailing and pathetic figure dismissed with the smile of pity and the gift of some sweet candies shaped as miniature sculptures of the President's two dogs. — Lewis H. Lapham, Harper's, March 1992 They were brave, and bravely she served them a pathetic meal of nothing but limitless bowls of little potatoes boiled in their jackets … — M. F. K. Fisher, With Bold Knife and Fork, 1969 Her face looked pale and extinguished, as if dimmed by the rich red of her dress. She struck Archer, of a sudden, as a pathetic and even pitiful figure. — Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence, 1920 The blind, old dog was a pathetic sight. The team was pretty bad last year, but this year they're downright pathetic. The story he told was a pathetic attempt to cover up a lie. His car is a pathetic piece of junk.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The number alone is pathetic, and women of color are hit even harder. Glamour, "10 Times Women Fought for Equal Pay—And Got Theirs," 19 Mar. 2019 Last year, Google fired engineer James Damore for writing an internal memo that the CEO, with pathetic dishonesty, characterized as bigoted. Michael Barone, National Review, "What’s Oozing Out of Campuses Is Polluting Society," 16 Feb. 2018 What a pathetic way of living this administration has normalized. Jill Filipovic, Cosmopolitan, "The Defense of Alleged Abuser Rob Porter Shows Exactly What a Woman's Word Is Worth in This Country," 8 Feb. 2018 Burger King’s joke lands because AI exists in the public imagination as a quantum entity — simultaneously powerful and pathetic. James Vincent, The Verge, "Burger King’s ‘AI-written’ ads show we’re still very confused about artificial intelligence," 3 Oct. 2018 Meanwhile, goalkeeper Manuel Neuer branded his side 'pathetic' after their early exit, claiming that his side's performance was not representative of what Germany are capable of. SI.com, "Arsenal's Mesut Özil Embroiled in Furious Row With Germany Supporters After Dramatic World Cup Exit," 28 June 2018 Forster is perfect, and the tone of the scene — pathetic, comic, just weird enough to stick — promises good things to come. Michael Phillips, chicagotribune.com, "'Damsel' review: A sardonic Western courtship that lasts a lifetime," 28 June 2018 On the Twitter, two Twitters, the tweets from 2010, is pathetic. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Why the New York Times won’t sell itself to a billionaire," 5 Nov. 2018 Americans have always been a precocious people, but the just-out-of-short-pants bucket list is pathetic. Joe Queenan, WSJ, "It’s Time to Kick the Bucket List," 20 July 2018

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

1591, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for pathetic

borrowed from Middle French & Late Latin; Middle French pathetique "provoking emotion," borrowed from Late Latin pathēticus "affecting the emotions," borrowed from Greek pathētikós "capable of feeling, emotional, receptive, passive," from pathētós "subject to suffering, liable to external influence" (verbal adjective from the base path- "experience, undergo, suffer") + -ikos -ic entry 1 — more at pathos

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Statistics for pathetic

Last Updated

23 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for pathetic

The first known use of pathetic was in 1591

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More Definitions for pathetic

pathetic

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of pathetic

: causing feelings of sadness and sympathy
informal + disapproving : very bad, poor, weak, etc.

pathetic

adjective
pa·​thet·​ic | \ pə-ˈthe-tik How to pronounce pathetic (audio) \

Kids Definition of pathetic

: causing feelings of pity, tenderness, or sorrow “You talk about some pathetic, tortured-looking little faces.”— Christopher Paul Curtis, The Watsons

Other Words from pathetic

pathetically adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on pathetic

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with pathetic

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pathetic

Spanish Central: Translation of pathetic

Nglish: Translation of pathetic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pathetic for Arabic Speakers

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