piti·​able ˈpi-tē-ə-bəl How to pronounce pitiable (audio)
: deserving or exciting pity : lamentable
pitiable victims
: of a kind to evoke mingled pity and contempt especially because of inadequacy
a pitiable excuse
pitiableness noun
pitiably adverb
Choose the Right Synonym for pitiable

contemptible, despicable, pitiable, sorry, scurvy mean arousing or deserving scorn.

contemptible may imply any quality provoking scorn or a low standing in any scale of values.

a contemptible liar

despicable may imply utter worthlessness and usually suggests arousing an attitude of moral indignation.

a despicable crime

pitiable applies to what inspires mixed contempt and pity.

a pitiable attempt at tragedy

sorry may stress pitiable inadequacy or may suggest wretchedness or sordidness.

this rattletrap is a sorry excuse for a car

scurvy adds to despicable an implication of arousing disgust.

a scurvy crew of hangers-on

Examples of pitiable in a Sentence

the sales presentation was a pitiable display of ineptitude and disorganization a pitiable attempt at singing that generated snickers
Recent Examples on the Web Cesira’s circumstances may be pitiable, but her character isn’t. Jess Bergman, The New Yorker, 8 Nov. 2023 Robinette is a model of dignity in a role that in lesser hands might seem pitiable. Peter Marks, Washington Post, 20 Oct. 2023 Their neighbors dismissed it as so much pitiable Soviet nostalgia. James Verini Paolo Pellegrin, New York Times, 1 Nov. 2023 Soon the grizzled features resolve into something pitiable and arresting, a bleak mirror. Rachel Cusk, Harper's Magazine, 27 Sep. 2023 The Hollow Earth Conspiracy Stands Strong In the refutations of science, self-respecting hollow-Earthers will hear only a pitiable close-mindedness. Cody Cottier, Discover Magazine, 17 Aug. 2023 Wilson puts most of his aw-shucks charm to the side to play this spacey wannabe, portraying Eli instead with a pitiable whine or some far-out detachment. Joe Reid, Vulture, 26 June 2023 Max Fischer is the most indelible character in the Wes Anderson filmography, a creature both admirable and pitiable in his striving. Joe Reid, Vulture, 26 June 2023 Miriam Silverman, as Iris’s uptown sister, Mavis, who has married into respectability, excels at that gambit, playing pitiable and understanding from one angle, then vicious from another. Lorraine Hansberry, Vulture, 27 Apr. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'pitiable.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of pitiable was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near pitiable

Cite this Entry

“Pitiable.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pitiable. Accessed 1 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


piti·​able ˈpit-ē-ə-bəl How to pronounce pitiable (audio)
pitiably adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on pitiable

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