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

Swansea's willingness and urgency looked pitiful for a team fighting relegation, and the sides went in at the break with Chelsea in full control. SI.com, "Swansea 0-1 Chelsea: Landmark Fabregas Strike Keeps Blues Top Four Hopes Alive," 28 Apr. 2018 My dad taught me that people with disabilities are powerful, not pitiful, and that conversations about ensuring people like him are included in society is not about weakness but instead about access, equity, and justice. Brittany Packnett, Teen Vogue, "We Can’t Just Show Up For Social Justice Issues When It Impacts Our Own Lives," 21 Mar. 2019 At times Anne seems like a pitiful creature, a woman who has lost all 17 of her children, mostly at birth. Caryn James, WSJ, "In ‘The Favourite,’ Filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos Upends a Period Piece," 22 Sep. 2018 Isaiah Thomas was struggling in a recent offensive role and consistently playing pitiful defense. Ben Golliver, SI.com, "Breaking Down the Biggest Winners and Losers From a Busy NBA Trade Deadline," 8 Feb. 2018 Gary Lineker has taken a brilliant swipe at Uruguay striker Luis Suarez for his pitiful performance against Egypt on Friday afternoon. SI.com, "Gary Lineker Rips Apart Misfiring Luis Suarez's Awful World Cup Performance With Salah Comparison," 15 June 2018 The White Sox are pitiful, dry seeds in hard ground, waiting for the Miracle (aka Eloy Jimenez) to breathe life upon them. John Kass, chicagotribune.com, "Joy of Chicago's Croatians cresting as World Cup final with France approaches," 13 July 2018 There’s a reason the Marlins are off to their most pitiful start in franchise history. Clark Spencer, miamiherald, "Why are the Miami Marlins failing? Just take a look at the stats. | Miami Herald," 23 Apr. 2018 Though Moshfegh never really rounds the boyfriend into a full, necessary character (possibly the novel’s one minor flaw), the narrator recalls several pitiful and blackly humorous moments with him. Walton Muyumba, latimes.com, "Detachment and dreaming in 'My Year of Rest and Relaxation' by Ottessa Moshfegh," 12 July 2018

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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Dictionary Entries near pitiful

pithy gall







Statistics for pitiful

Last Updated

24 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for pitiful

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

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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

Comments on pitiful

What made you want to look up pitiful? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


highly pertinent or appropriate

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