sympathy

noun
sym·​pa·​thy | \ ˈsim-pə-thē How to pronounce sympathy (audio) \
plural sympathies

Essential Meaning of sympathy

1 : the feeling that you care about and are sorry about someone else's trouble, grief, misfortune, etc. : a sympathetic feeling She went to her best friend for sympathy. Letters of sympathy were sent to the families of the victims. See More ExamplesMy deepest sympathies go out to the families of the victims. Our sympathies are with them.Hide
2 : a feeling of support for something She has liberal/conservative sympathies.
3 : a state in which different people share the same interests, opinions, goals, etc. There was no sympathy between them.

Full Definition of sympathy

1a : an affinity, association, or relationship between persons or things wherein whatever affects one similarly affects the other
b : mutual or parallel susceptibility or a condition brought about by it
c : unity or harmony in action or effect every part is in complete sympathy with the scheme as a whole— Edwin Benson
2a : inclination to think or feel alike : emotional or intellectual accord in sympathy with their goals
b : feeling of loyalty : tendency to favor or support republican sympathies
3a : the act or capacity of entering into or sharing the feelings or interests of another
b : the feeling or mental state brought about by such sensitivity have sympathy for the poor
4 : the correlation existing between bodies capable of communicating their vibrational energy to one another through some medium

Choose the Right Synonym for sympathy

attraction, affinity, sympathy mean the relationship existing between things or persons that are naturally or involuntarily drawn together. attraction implies the possession by one thing of a quality that pulls another to it. felt an attraction to danger affinity implies a susceptibility or predisposition on the part of the one drawn. an affinity for mathematics sympathy implies a reciprocal or natural relation between two things that are both susceptible to the same influence. two minds in sympathy

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

Frequently Asked Questions About sympathy

What is the difference between sympathy and empathy?

Sympathy and empathy share a root, the Greek word pathos (meaning "feelings, emotion"), and likewise have some similarity in meaning. Sympathy describes the act or capacity of sharing the feelings of another person; empathy may indicate less emotional closeness (understanding how another person may feel, without necessarily sharing their emotion).

What is the difference between sympathy and compassion?

While sympathy tends to refer to the act or capacity of sharing the feelings of another person, compassion often refers to both an understanding of another’s pain and the desire to somehow mitigate that pain.

What is the difference between sympathy and pity?

Pity often carries the meaning of tender or sometimes slightly contemptuous sorrow for one in misery or distress. While sympathy often suggests a tender concern, it also can imply a power to enter into another's emotional experience.

Examples of sympathy in a Sentence

She went to her best friend for sympathy. Letters of sympathy were sent to the families of the victims. My deepest sympathies go out to the families of the victims. Our sympathies are with them. There was no sympathy between them.
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Recent Examples on the Web Moral crucibles that upend the lives of everyday people, never above reproach but always deserving of sympathy, are a dramatic propellant for the films of Iranian writer-director Asghar Farhadi. Los Angeles Times, 14 Jan. 2022 That fire prompted an outpouring of sympathy both from within Japan and abroad, as well as donations for victims and to rebuild the studio. Yuri Kageyama, ajc, 31 Dec. 2021 In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy can be made to the Louisville Metro Police Foundation at www.saferlouisville.org. Krista Johnson, The Courier-Journal, 23 Dec. 2021 At the same time, his depiction of the geek has more than an ounce of sympathy to it, a wistful sadness that ends up being Nightmare Alley’s prevailing mood. David Sims, The Atlantic, 18 Dec. 2021 In another instance, some used a term Peng used to describe herself in the post to show their sympathy and solidarity with the tennis player. Quartz Staff, Quartz, 3 Nov. 2021 What’s shameful is that Long could not bring himself to show any sympathy for her. Jiayang Fan, The New Yorker, 19 Mar. 2021 In fact, only one of the top 10 one-word responses suggest sympathy toward the events. Brittany Shepherd, ABC News, 6 Jan. 2022 The samples are gaudy, clearly offprints of invitations from real weddings, and my sister and I are in an unspoken sympathy of offense at the sequins, borders, and loud scripts. Rafil Kroll-zaidi, Harper’s Magazine , 4 Jan. 2022

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

1579, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for sympathy

Latin sympathia, from Greek sympatheia, from sympathēs having common feelings, sympathetic, from syn- + pathos feelings, emotion, experience — more at pathos

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Time Traveler for sympathy

Time Traveler

The first known use of sympathy was in 1579

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Dictionary Entries Near sympathy

sympathomimetic

sympathy

sympathy strike

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Statistics for sympathy

Last Updated

20 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Sympathy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sympathy. Accessed 26 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for sympathy

sympathy

noun
sym·​pa·​thy | \ ˈsim-pə-thē How to pronounce sympathy (audio) \
plural sympathies

Kids Definition of sympathy

1 : sorrow or pity for another She felt sympathy for the poor lost puppy.
2 : readiness to favor or support He expressed sympathy for the protesters.
3 : a relationship between people or things in which whatever affects one similarly affects the other

sympathy

noun
sym·​pa·​thy | \ ˈsim-pə-thē How to pronounce sympathy (audio) \
plural sympathies

Medical Definition of sympathy

1a : an affinity, association, or relationship between persons or things wherein whatever affects one similarly affects the other
b : mutual or parallel susceptibility or a condition brought about by it
2a : the act or capacity of entering into or sharing the feelings or interests of another
b : the feeling or mental state brought about by such sensitivity

More from Merriam-Webster on sympathy

Nglish: Translation of sympathy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sympathy for Arabic Speakers

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