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

Keep scrolling for more

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

In Gladstone, the longtime park owner was sympathetic to residents and waited for their financing to come together. oregonlive.com, "One of Oregon’s biggest stocks of affordable housing -- the mobile home -- is in peril, despite state interventions," 13 July 2019 Whelan was sympathetic and told Vega and the prosecutors to negotiate what terms would be acceptable. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Rep. Hunter’s attorney won’t put other congressional behavior on trial," 3 July 2019 Trump has had varying stances through the years on whether to keep DACA, at times appearing sympathetic toward Dreamers. Tatiana Sanchez, SFChronicle.com, "Bay Area ‘Dreamers’ anxious about upcoming court review of DACA," 28 June 2019 And with material that finally allowed her character to be sympathetic, Grobglas ran with it, turning in one of TV’s most underrated performances. Derek Lawrence, EW.com, "Forget Team Michael or Rafael, Jane and Petra are now the heart of Jane the Virgin," 26 June 2019 Torcellini manages to make the swindling Bialystock a rather sympathetic character and Raben’s performance as the mousy, blanket-dependent (think Peanuts’ Linus) accountant is believable. Pomerado News, "REVIEW: Moonlight’s ‘The Producers’ is intentionally-offensive comedy," 19 June 2019 This episode demonstrated that a highly polished campaign with a compelling story about a sympathetic character—or a celebrity—can go viral, while countless others are left in the dust. Quentin Fottrell, Town & Country, "GoFundMe Has Revolutionized How We Give, But Is That a Good Thing?," 19 June 2019 Dunn-Koczorowski was sentenced on two counts of encouraging terrorism, which included an online post sympathetic toward Anders Breivik, the man who killed at least 77 people in Oslo, Norway. Joshua Bote, USA TODAY, "Neo-Nazi teens who threatened Prince Harry jailed for online 'terrorist' posts," 18 June 2019 While there was prejudice among some faculty members, Begian famously treated his white and black students equally and was sympathetic to those with jazz proclivities. Mark Stryker, Detroit Free Press, "'Jazz from Detroit': Exclusive excerpt from new book about city's remarkable jazz legacy," 30 June 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about sympathetic

Statistics for sympathetic

Last Updated

20 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sympathetic

The first known use of sympathetic was in 1644

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on sympathetic

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to complain fretfully

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What's that Smell?! Quiz

  • wide eyed dog smelling rose
  • Someone who is hircine smells like a:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!