pity

1 of 2

noun

plural pities
1
a
: sympathetic sorrow for one suffering, distressed, or unhappy
b
: capacity to feel pity
2
: something to be regretted
it's a pity you can't go

pity

2 of 2

verb

pitied; pitying

transitive verb

: to feel pity for

intransitive verb

: to feel pity
Choose the Right Synonym for pity

pity, compassion, commiseration, condolence, sympathy mean the act or capacity for sharing the painful feelings of another.

pity implies tender or sometimes slightly contemptuous sorrow for one in misery or distress.

felt pity for the captives

compassion implies pity coupled with an urgent desire to aid or to spare.

treats the homeless with great compassion

commiseration suggests pity expressed outwardly in exclamations, tears, or words of comfort.

murmurs of commiseration filled the loser's headquarters

condolence applies chiefly to formal expression of grief to one who has suffered loss.

expressed their condolences to the widow

sympathy often suggests a tender concern but can also imply a power to enter into another's emotional experience of any sort.

went to my best friend for sympathy
in sympathy with her desire to locate her natural parents

Examples of pity in a Sentence

Noun She has had a hard life and deserves your pity. I felt deep pity for the lost dog. He didn't live to see his daughter grow up, and that's a pity. Verb I pity anyone who has to work at that place. I always pity the people who have to work in this freezing weather.
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
After putting pen to paper, Spencer worries that in sharing his story, some will judge his candor as a plea for pity from those born into tremendous wealth and privilege. Janine Henni, Peoplemag, 3 Apr. 2024 The Holocaust sentiment that once prevailed in Hollywood has now been replaced by Millennial apathy that disdains pity yet judges righteousness. Armond White, National Review, 20 Mar. 2024 He’s never wanted to invite pity or to scare the kids. Carolyn Hax, Washington Post, 30 Jan. 2024 That’s a pity because JaQuel Knight’s choreography is mesmerizing and the dancers are uniformly impressive, flying from one lithe pose to the next, but the movement doesn’t feel connected to the momentum of the show. Karen D'souza, The Mercury News, 22 Jan. 2024 This would be a pity for nature but also a major loss for the growers. Stacey Leasca, Travel + Leisure, 16 Feb. 2024 His face softens with a mixture of concern and pity, an I-hate-to-tell-you-this look. Longreads, 8 Feb. 2024 Now, in Origin, DuVernay teams up with Ellis-Taylor for the ultimate pity party. Armond White, National Review, 24 Jan. 2024 In this thoroughly elegant and subdued film, Mr. Tu’s mention of an enzyme that penetrates a cell — an evident illustration of how Shuo gained access to their home — may seem like the most inelegant note, until late in the story the one using pity to gain sympathy is someone else. Carlos Aguilar, Variety, 22 Jan. 2024
Verb
Does Agnes pity the dead woman or envy her the end of all her troubles? Jessica Kiang, Variety, 20 Feb. 2024 Pity whomever follows him — well, as much as someone can be pitied for taking an $8-million-per-year job. Dan Wolken, USA TODAY, 11 Jan. 2024 People stared, pitied me, or even refused to acknowledge me. Sophie Morgan, Condé Nast Traveler, 21 Feb. 2024 But the next day, Emma walks through campus to find students everywhere either laughing at her or pitying her… because Justine did a vlog revealing all of Emma's secrets. Alex Raiman, EW.com, 29 Sep. 2023 My reconstructive plastic surgeon refused to pity me and, therefore, was always my favorite. Sue Williamson, Vogue, 26 Jan. 2024 The actress attacks the role with her typical intensity, portraying Lorna as a sort of feral animal in human form, alternately mocked and feared, pitied and scorned. Chris Vognar, New York Times, 18 Jan. 2024 Cue more sofa wails and pitying looks at family gatherings when relatives ask you about your love life. Olivia Petter, Vogue, 19 Dec. 2023 Lily Gladstone, in Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, imbues Mollie Burkhart with a moral and emotional three-dimensionality, pushing us to see the character as more than just someone to be pitied. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 6 Dec. 2023

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

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English pite, from Anglo-French pité, from Latin pietat-, pietas piety, pity, from pius pious

First Known Use

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of pity was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near pity

Cite this Entry

“Pity.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pity. Accessed 13 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

pity

1 of 2 noun
plural pities
1
: sympathetic sorrow for one suffering, distressed, or unhappy : compassion
2
: something to be regretted
it's a pity you can't go

pity

2 of 2 verb
pitied; pitying
: to feel pity for

More from Merriam-Webster on pity

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