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 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web The trees were thin and pathetic and nearly leafless at first. Rivka Galchen, The New Yorker, "Living in New York’s Unloved Neighborhood," 8 Feb. 2021 Trump’s pathetic final rally, his impeachment, the loss of his Twitter account itself—all of these things kept Donald Trump in our psyche through the middle of January. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "The GameStop Saga Is the First Post-Trump Story," 1 Feb. 2021 That being said, Zied did look absolutely sad and pathetic sitting against a wall in an apartment decorated with a lone shopping cart. Ashley Ray-harris, Vulture, "90 Day Fiancé Recap: Natalie Goes Full Villain," 18 Jan. 2021 My classmates all thought that Gatsby seemed sort of sad, a pathetic figure. Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, The New Yorker, "Waking Up from the American Dream," 18 Jan. 2021 Fox’s biggest postelection competitors, are seeing their audiences grow at a rapid clip—and seem poised to hold on to them even after Trump’s pathetic efforts to undo the 2020 election end. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Fox News Is in Trouble," 10 Dec. 2020 Washington’s 20-14 win over the Philadelphia Eagles clinched a division title for the Footballers despite the team’s fairly pathetic 7-9 record. New York Times, "What We Learned From Week 17 of the N.F.L. Season," 3 Jan. 2021 During the past two months, the defense of the President has been defined by the comic-pathetic scene of Rudy Giuliani denouncing the election results to a handful of supporters and press at Four Seasons Total Landscaping, in Philadelphia. Benjamin Wallace-wells, The New Yorker, "The Real Republican Radicals," 31 Dec. 2020 And just like that, four months later, my once pathetic record collection has swiftly grown to 16 pieces. Julian Chokkattu, Wired, "How My Record Player Helped Me Feel the Music," 30 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for pathetic

Time Traveler

The first known use of pathetic was in 1591

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Statistics for pathetic

Last Updated

17 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Pathetic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pathetic. Accessed 28 Feb. 2021.

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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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Comments on pathetic

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