sympathetic

adjective
sym·​pa·​thet·​ic | \ ˌsim-pə-ˈthe-tik How to pronounce sympathetic (audio) \

Definition of sympathetic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : existing or operating through an affinity, interdependence, or mutual association
2a : appropriate to one's mood, inclinations, or disposition
b : marked by kindly or pleased appreciation the biographer's approach was sympathetic
3 : given to, marked by, or arising from sympathy, compassion, friendliness, and sensitivity to others' emotions a sympathetic gesture
4 : favorably inclined : approving not sympathetic to the idea
5a : showing empathy
b : arousing sympathy or compassion a sympathetic role in the play
6a : of or relating to the sympathetic nervous system
b : mediated by or acting on the sympathetic nerves
7 : relating to musical tones produced by sympathetic vibration or to strings so tuned as to sound by sympathetic vibration

sympathetic

noun

Definition of sympathetic (Entry 2 of 2)

: a sympathetic structure especially : sympathetic nervous system

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Other Words from sympathetic

Adjective

sympathetically \ ˌsim-​pə-​ˈthe-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce sympathetically (audio) \ adverb

Examples of sympathetic in a Sentence

Adjective

He received much help from sympathetic friends. I didn't find the hero in the movie very sympathetic.

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Some commission members were sympathetic to the preservation idea, noting that the power plant is historically significant. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Effort to preserve coastal smokestack gets cold shoulder from commission," 10 Sep. 2019 The president has made comments in recent months that appear sympathetic to Russia’s position on the annexation. Rebecca Ballhaus, WSJ, "Trump Questions Finding of Russia’s 2016 Meddling as He Appears With Putin," 16 July 2018 In court on Tuesday, Beetem seemed sympathetic to the arguments of the governor’s attorney. Jason Hancock, kansascity, "Governor’s lawyer argues texts automatically deleted by app aren’t public records," 19 June 2018 But other judges appeared sympathetic to Ms. Bolger’s arguments on behalf of Ms. Robles. Vivian Wang, New York Times, "Court Weighs Whether Times Reporter Must Testify in ‘Baby Hope’ Trial," 5 June 2018 Ellis, 77, who was appointed to the federal bench in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan, seemed sympathetic to that argument. Author: Sharon Lafraniere, Anchorage Daily News, "Judge questions Mueller’s charges against Manafort," 5 May 2018 Ellis appeared somewhat sympathetic to that argument as well, comparing Mueller to independent counsels criticized in the past for overreach. Rachel Weiner, chicagotribune.com, "Judge says Mueller team just prosecuting Manafort to get him to 'sing' about Trump," 4 May 2018 For their part, King and Hill seemed sympathetic about the situation. BostonGlobe.com, "Stephen King-related," 17 Sep. 2019 President Trump had appeared sympathetic to the idea, but other Administration officials have resisted it. Tim Lister, CNN, "After the Saudi oil attacks, all options carry great risk," 16 Sep. 2019

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

Adjective

1644, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1808, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for sympathetic

Adjective

New Latin sympatheticus, from Latin sympathia sympathy

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Statistics for sympathetic

Last Updated

12 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sympathetic

The first known use of sympathetic was in 1644

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More Definitions for sympathetic

sympathetic

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of sympathetic

: feeling or showing concern about someone who is in a bad situation : having or showing feelings of sympathy
: having or showing support for or approval of something
: having pleasant or appealing qualities : causing feelings of sympathy

sympathetic

adjective
sym·​pa·​thet·​ic | \ ˌsim-pə-ˈthe-tik How to pronounce sympathetic (audio) \

Kids Definition of sympathetic

1 : feeling or showing care or understanding I received help from sympathetic friends.
2 : feeling favorable They're not sympathetic to the idea.

Other Words from sympathetic

sympathetically \ -​ti-​kə-​lē \ adverb She listened sympathetically.

sympathetic

adjective
sym·​pa·​thet·​ic | \ ˌsim-pə-ˈthet-ik How to pronounce sympathetic (audio) \

Medical Definition of sympathetic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : of or relating to the sympathetic nervous system
2 : mediated by or acting on the sympathetic nerves

Other Words from sympathetic

sympathetically \ -​i-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce sympathetically (audio) \ adverb

sympathetic

noun

Medical Definition of sympathetic (Entry 2 of 2)

: a sympathetic structure especially : sympathetic nervous system

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Comments on sympathetic

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