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 An example of the first school: the pitiful and spineless Joe McGinniss. Robert Gottlieb, New York Times, "Emmanuel Carrère’s Disconcertingly Personal and Utterly Gripping Prose," 12 Dec. 2019 The Browns are pitiful on third down (27th) and the red zone (20th with 22 touchdown in 41 trips), including 1-for-3 last week. cleveland, "Odell Beckham Jr.’s talent has been wasted in what multiple sources describe as a ‘dysfunctional’ Browns offense," 7 Dec. 2019 The article brings pitiful and improper comparisons. Marcus M. Gilban, sun-sentinel.com, "Brazilian Jews slam magazine that likened Jewish politician to Joseph Goebbels," 12 Nov. 2019 Their pitiful 1-7 record and the talk of tanking that surrounded them didn't matter, Reich said. Jim Ayello, Indianapolis Star, "Insider: Colts suffer shocking loss to Dolphins as Vinatieri, Ebron, Hoyer struggle," 10 Nov. 2019 Argentina’s national team went on strike in 2016 after growing tired of late payments of pitiful stipends and lack of access to things like basic facilities and a travel/accommodation budget. SI.com, "Australia Women Set for Landmark Equal Pay Deal With Men's National Team," 5 Nov. 2019 That is pitiful compared with, say, the concrete dome of the Pantheon in Rome—which was completed in 125AD and still stands. The Economist, "A pair of Australian bridges try to cure concrete cancer," 2 Nov. 2019 The same could be said about the people fighting over it, every last one of whom is greedy, selfish, and pitiful. David Klion, The New Republic, "The Politics of Succession," 15 Oct. 2019 Like André, who is sure of himself one moment, befuddled and pitiful the next, we are plunged into a shadowy, fearful place where reality, memory, and imagination mingle indiscriminately. Alexandra Schwartz, The New Yorker, "The Unstable, Flickering “The Height of the Storm”," 30 Sep. 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 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pitiful.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pitifully. Accessed 19 January 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

Comments on pitiful

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to insert between existing elements

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