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 sympathetic (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 The op-ed was later updated after MLB’s decision on April 6, removing the language that was sympathetic to boycotts. Michael Lee, Washington Examiner, "USA Today 'stealth edits' Stacey Abrams op-ed that was sympathetic to boycotts after MLB moved All-Star Game," 27 Apr. 2021 After the first Gulf War in 1991, Saddam Hussein’s regime regarded Christians with suspicion, for being sympathetic to the primarily Christian Americans. Andrew Doran, National Review, "The Future of Christians in the Middle East," 25 Apr. 2021 Republican members of the subcommittee were sympathetic to Macchiarola’s arguments. Sabrina Eaton, cleveland, "Ohio anti-fracking activist joins Greta Thunberg to decry fossil fuel subsidies at Earth Day congressional hearing," 22 Apr. 2021 Juries can be sympathetic to the way police frame violent encounters even if some evidence presents another side to the story. Noah Robertson, The Christian Science Monitor, "Chauvin convicted: Why this big trial broke from pattern," 21 Apr. 2021 Official denials from Moscow and sympathetic media outlets must be weighed against countless incidents documented by humanitarian organizations and audio recordings of Russian pilots executing attacks on hospitals. Sebastien Roblin, Forbes, "Moscow Assures World Its Iskander Missile Can Precisely Hit A Hospital," 1 Mar. 2021 Confidence has been undermined by politicians and pundits who tacitly or explicitly refuse to acknowledge their losses and receive a megaphone from sympathetic media outlets. Brad Raffensperger, WSJ, "Trump Runs the Stacey Abrams Playbook," 6 Dec. 2020 Some sympathetic right-wing media outlets and many Republican officials are refusing to acknowledge that Joseph R. Biden Jr. is the president-elect. Sarah Lyall, New York Times, "When a Leader Just Won’t Go," 15 Nov. 2020 That left it mostly to the president’s die-hard supporters and commentators on Fox News, talk radio and other sympathetic outlets to make his case. Los Angeles Times, "Biden prepares to address the nation as he closes in on the White House," 6 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The task of making a heinous character sympathetic is the real work of many novels. New York Times, "The Talented Mr. Ripley," 24 Mar. 2021 All of the creatures in this world are multifaceted, with designs that can shift from frightening to sympathetic. Diana Hubbell, Wired, "Sea of Solitude Captures the Loneliness and Anxiety of the Pandemic," 22 Mar. 2021 Ninidze makes Penkovsky sympathetic and, much harder to do, plausible. Mark Feeney, BostonGlobe.com, "Tinker, tailor, soldier ... ‘The Courier’," 18 Mar. 2021 Wanda is watching Malcolm in the Middle when Vision interrupts to offer her a sympathetic (if synthetic) ear. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, "‘WandaVision’ Recap: Some Assembly Required," 26 Feb. 2021 Agudath Israel is appealing the case to the Supreme Court, which gained a jurist sympathetic to religious liberty arguments when Barrett was appointed. Shira Hanau, sun-sentinel.com, "Orthodox group takes fight against restrictions on synagogues to Supreme Court," 18 Nov. 2020 Israel is pushing forward with controversial plans to develop a Jewish enclave in a strategic area of East Jerusalem, in the waning days of a Trump administration sympathetic to Israeli settlement activity. Ivan Levingston, Bloomberg.com, "Israel Advances Building in East Jerusalem Before Trump Exit," 15 Nov. 2020 For instance, accounts sympathetic to Diana at the time stressed her despair over Charles’s infidelity while conveniently eliding her own adulterous adventures. Sarah Lyall, New York Times, "‘The Crown’ Has Had Its Scandals, but There’s Nothing Like Diana," 12 Nov. 2020 As the war in Syria raged, he was widely accused of appearing sympathetic with President Bashar al-Assad, even as the Syrian dictator shelled his own citizens and killed tens of thousands, including allegedly with chemical weapons. Michelle Toh, CNN, "Robert Fisk, the journalist who interviewed bin Laden, dies at 74," 2 Nov. 2020

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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Time Traveler for sympathetic

Time Traveler

The first known use of sympathetic was in 1644

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Statistics for sympathetic

Last Updated

3 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sympathetic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sympathetic. Accessed 15 May. 2021.

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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 sympathetic (audio) \ adverb

sympathetic

noun

Medical Definition of sympathetic (Entry 2 of 2)

: a sympathetic structure especially : sympathetic nervous system

Comments on sympathetic

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