piti·​ful | \ ˈpi-ti-fəl How to pronounce pitiful (audio) \

Definition of pitiful

1 archaic : full of pity : compassionate
2a : deserving or arousing pity or commiseration
b : exciting pitying contempt (as by meanness or inadequacy) pitiful wages

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Other Words from pitiful

pitifully \ ˈpi-​ti-​f(ə-​)lē How to pronounce pitifully (audio) \ adverb
pitifulness \ ˈpi-​ti-​fəl-​nəs How to pronounce pitifulness (audio) \ noun

Examples of pitiful in a Sentence

She made a pitiful attempt to complete her work. that piece of junk is a pitiful excuse for a car
Recent Examples on the Web After further difficulties the pitiful train rolled out. al, "Mobile’s statue: Who was Confederate Adm. Raphael Semmes?," 5 June 2020 The comedy club audience witnessing his pitiful attempt at stand-up is brutal. Anne Cohen, refinery29.com, "Joker Isn’t In Birds Of Prey. Get Over It.," 7 Feb. 2020 Cash transfers announced by the finance minister were also pitiful in size and will not alleviate the distress. Jayati Ghosh, Quartz India, "Indian economy was rolling down a hill. With Covid-19, it’s falling off a cliff," 2 Apr. 2020 The median balance held in retirement accounts is $60,000 per family, enough for only a pitiful income in old age. The Economist, "Baby steps America’s pensions system is now less of a mess," 18 Jan. 2020 And on the troubled route from Chicago to Detroit to Pontiac — the state’s busiest Amtrak route — on-time performance was a pitiful 33%. Bill Laitner, Detroit Free Press, "Amtrak blames freight trains for passenger delays getting worse," 24 Feb. 2020 For those that did manage, somehow, to get the pitiful exercise in techno-solutionism up and running, the tool failed to report accurate results. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "The Iowa caucus debacle is great for America’s disinformation-peddling adversaries," 5 Feb. 2020 Poor, pitiful Joe Flacco was sacked eight times for a loss of 72 yards. Mark Kiszla, The Denver Post, "Kiszla: Broncos need to send John Elway to showers and hire Peyton Manning as director of football operations," 17 Oct. 2019 Yep, Cousins still is a key player, even after his pitiful game against the Packers. Bob Sansevere, Twin Cities, "Bob Sansevere: Vikings end season with a yawn, rest up for next week’s playoff opener," 29 Dec. 2019

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for pitiful

Time Traveler

The first known use of pitiful was in the 14th century

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Statistics for pitiful

Last Updated

16 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pitiful.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pitiful. Accessed 4 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for pitiful


How to pronounce pitiful (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of pitiful

: deserving or causing feelings of pity or sympathy
: causing feelings of dislike or disgust by not being enough or not being good enough


piti·​ful | \ ˈpi-ti-fəl How to pronounce pitiful (audio) \

Kids Definition of pitiful

1 : deserving or causing feelings of pity a pitiful sight
2 : deserving or causing a feeling of dislike or disgust by not being sufficient or good enough a pitiful excuse

Other Words from pitiful

pitifully \ -​fə-​lē , -​flē \ adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on pitiful

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pitiful

Spanish Central: Translation of pitiful

Nglish: Translation of pitiful for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pitiful for Arabic Speakers

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