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 pitiful (audio) \ adverb
pitifulness \ ˈpi-​ti-​fəl-​nəs How to pronounce pitiful (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 Listening to Baffert’s story change on a day-to-day basis as to why Derby winner Medina Spirit tested positive for steroids has been comical — and pitiful. Mike Bianchi, orlandosentinel.com, 12 May 2021 Let the pitiful New Yorkers have their little fun with a soon-to-be-33-year-old pitcher who is 72-52 lifetime with a 2.55 ERA. BostonGlobe.com, 27 Apr. 2021 In these narratives disabled people become tools used to further the idea that disability is inherently wrong or pitiful. Keah Brown, Town & Country, 19 Apr. 2021 When my husband and I paid our first visit, in the dead of winter, my feet froze; my arthritic hands throbbed painfully in my pitiful gloves. Marilyn J. Carpenter, WSJ, 9 Apr. 2021 Hollywood women fed up with their pitiful numbers behind the cameras have long agitated for more power. USA Today, 5 Apr. 2021 Those folks are pitiful and derelict in their responsibilities to their fellow citizens. Arkansas Online, 13 Mar. 2021 The Beavers were pitiful during the first quarter, scoring a season-low five points, making 2 of 16 shots. oregonlive, 4 Mar. 2021 The pitiful state of our memories had led us to invest billions of dollars in pencils and notepads. Steven Levy, Wired, 12 Feb. 2021

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

24 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Pitiful.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pitiful. Accessed 15 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for pitiful



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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