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

Other Words from pathetic

pathetical \ pə-​ˈthe-​ti-​kəl How to pronounce pathetic (audio) \ adjective
pathetically \ pə-​ˈthe-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce pathetic (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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Despite excellent intentions and underfunded earlier tries, poor Clifton was pathetic. Jacques Kelly, Baltimore Sun, 7 May 2022 Equally menacing and pathetic, Russell charms and frightens into an instant classic performance behind the wheel. Ben Flanagan | Bflanagan@al.com, al, 27 Mar. 2022 By today’s standards, the SCP–5300’s camera is pathetic. Ben Zigterman, BGR, 4 Feb. 2022 Gary Oldman never looked so pathetic, but restrained cool doesn't necessarily equal honesty. Darren Franich, EW.com, 3 Feb. 2022 Jacob, the figure at the center of all these rumors, legends, prayers and condemnations, is an enigma — alternately maniacal and pathetic, terrifying and ridiculous. Washington Post, 1 Feb. 2022 The crucial loss to pathetic Houston was among the most embarrassing in the history of a franchise that invented embarrassment. San Diego Union-Tribune, 12 Jan. 2022 After months of deceit and deception, the pathetic spectacle of a man who has run out of road. Guy Davies, ABC News, 12 Jan. 2022 The pathetic media excuse for running with the story was that important people in the government were talking about it. James Freeman, WSJ, 11 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for pathetic

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The first known use of pathetic was in 1591

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Dictionary Entries Near pathetic

pathet

pathetic

pathetic fallacy

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Last Updated

12 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Pathetic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pathetic. Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for pathetic

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 Go to Birmingham—1963

Other Words from pathetic

pathetically adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on pathetic

Nglish: Translation of pathetic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pathetic for Arabic Speakers

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