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

In line with the rising tide of liberalism outside the school, the priests’ apparent severity actually conceals a pathetic weakness; no one is ever punished. Tim Parks, Harper's magazine, "Murder Italian Style," 19 Aug. 2019 Maybe all this seems like a bunch of petty sniping back and forth, or a pathetic last-ditch effort by Worley to hold on to power. al, "Who’s worse for Alabama: Mike Hubbard or Nancy Worley?," 30 July 2019 During my 2,000-year running career, every agonizing jog has been etched into memory, like pathetic slow-motion footage from some disaster that happens over and over but can’t be averted. Andrea Pitzer, Outside Online, "I (Kinda) Hate Running," 9 July 2019 In too many recent elections, particularly primaries, that less than acceptable characterization is more accurately labeled pathetic. The Aegis, "Hard look needed at election problems in Maryland [Editorial]," 12 July 2018 In contrast, the band's website, like almost all official websites of the time, was pathetic. Nancy Baym, WIRED, "Book Excerpt: How Music Fans Built the Internet," 10 July 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 Lewis is ice cold, pale, and pathetic, as Soames clings to his Victorian delusions, stuffing his emotions down, his eyes a brutish blue. Matthew Gilbert, BostonGlobe.com, "Ten actors who shone even before they were stars," 28 June 2018 At the center is Joel Reitsma's forcible turn as Paul, a convincingly impossible concoction: childlike, malevolent, charming, repugnant, pathetic, condemnable. Justin Hayford, Chicago Reader, "Joel Reitsma's star turn in Birdland may be the performance of the season," 11 Apr. 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

24 Aug 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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a haphazard or makeshift solution

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