sympathy

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

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

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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

Sympathy vs. Empathy

Sympathy and empathy are closely related words, bound by shared origins and the similar circumstances in which each is applicable, yet they are not synonymous. For one thing, sympathy is considerably older than empathy, having existed in our language for several hundred years before its cousin was introduced, and its greater age is reflected in a wider breadth of meaning. Sympathy may refer to "feelings of loyalty" or "unity or harmony in action or effect," meanings not shared by empathy. In the contexts where the two words do overlap, sympathy implies sharing (or having the capacity to share) the feelings of another, while empathy tends to be used to mean imagining, or having the capacity to imagine, feelings that one does not actually have.

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 While the novel depicts a devastating image of the Orthodox Jewish merchant, Wilburn’s portrayals of Jewish ritual and holiday observances are rendered with warmth and sympathy, Sarna said. Penny Schwartz, sun-sentinel.com, "The earliest known American Jewish novel introduces a new feminist voice," 20 Nov. 2019 Photographs and footage of the deadly slurry avalanche generated sympathy across the globe, and in the months following the disaster, donors contributed a total of £1,750,000. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "The True Story of the Aberfan Disaster," 15 Nov. 2019 And somebody who is in prison generally falls at the lower end of the sympathy spectrum. Crystal Hill, Indianapolis Star, "Indiana will pay inmate $100K for each year he spent in solitary, lawyers say," 11 Nov. 2019 Although an ardent Union supporter, her older sister had Southern sympathies. Mary Ann Ashcraft, baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, "Carroll Yesteryears: Remembering a crusader from Carroll County as 100th anniversary of 19th Amendment nears," 9 Nov. 2019 In nearly every department, those with extremist climate and public lands views, or, at the least, extremist sympathies, have been hired, appointed, or promoted. Nick Martin, The New Republic, "The League of Anti-Environmental Extremists," 29 Oct. 2019 On the other hand, sympathy for business could be tempered by support for disability rights that, historically, has transcended liberal and conservative politics. Jeff John Roberts, Fortune, "Domino’s Delivers a Dilemma to the Supreme Court: A Website Accessibility Case That Could Impact Thousands of Companies," 3 Oct. 2019 In staking out his position, Newsom is caught between his fellow Democrats and environmentalists on one side, and his relationship with Central Valley farmers and water brokers and sympathy for their needs on the other. Julie Cart, The Mercury News, "Demise of key environment bill could escalate California’s water wars," 20 Sep. 2019 His sympathy for victims of oppression turns cold when the countries doing the oppressing are Vladimir Putin’s Russia, Nicolás Maduro’s Venezuela or, in the 1990s, Slobodan Milosevic’s Serbia. The Economist, "Security questions for Jeremy Corbyn," 7 Nov. 2019

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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Statistics for sympathy

Last Updated

28 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Sympathy.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sympathy. Accessed 10 December 2019.

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More Definitions for sympathy

sympathy

noun
How to pronounce sympathy (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of sympathy

: the feeling that you care about and are sorry about someone else's trouble, grief, misfortune, etc. : a sympathetic feeling
: a feeling of support for something
: a state in which different people share the same interests, opinions, goals, etc.

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

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Comments on sympathy

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