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

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 Several former colleagues of Scalia’s told me that he must be mortified by Trump’s stewardship of the pandemic—and by the President’s lack of sympathy for the more than two hundred thousand victims. Eyal Press, The New Yorker, "Trump’s Labor Secretary Is a Wrecking Ball Aimed at Workers," 19 Oct. 2020 This is especially likely if there is sustained political activism beyond the initial burst of sympathy for grocery store clerks, delivery drivers and nursing home staff. Nicholas Christakis, WSJ, "The Long Shadow of the Pandemic: 2024 and Beyond," 16 Oct. 2020 Gonzalez Rogers has expressed sympathy for Epic's arguments, if not its tactics. Brian Fung And Shannon Liao, CNN, "Apple's in a war for the future of the App Store. Here's what's at stake," 25 Sep. 2020 President Donald Trump also at one point expressed sympathy for the defendant. NBC News, "Teen accused of shooting 2 Kenosha protesters fighting extradition to Wisconsin to face homicide charges," 25 Sep. 2020 Barrett has long expressed sympathy with a mode of interpreting the Constitution, called originalism, in which justices try to decipher original meanings of texts in deciding cases. Arkansas Online, "Romney OKs voting on court nominee, all but assures approval," 22 Sep. 2020 Barrett has long expressed sympathy with a mode of interpreting the Constitution called originalism, in which justices try to decipher original meanings of texts in deciding cases. Lisa Mascaro, NOLA.com, "Romney OKs voting on Supreme Court nominee, all but assures approval," 22 Sep. 2020 Barrett has long expressed sympathy with a mode of interpreting the Constitution, called originalism, in which justices try to decipher original meanings of texts in deciding cases. Lisa Mascaro, Anchorage Daily News, "Romney supports quick Senate vote on Supreme Court nominee, all but assuring approval," 22 Sep. 2020 Barrett has long expressed sympathy with a mode of interpreting the Constitution, called originalism, in which justices try to decipher original meanings of texts in deciding cases. Lisa Mascaro, chicagotribune.com, "Republicans have votes to confirm Trump Supreme Court pick by Nov. 3, Sen. Lindsey Graham says," 22 Sep. 2020

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

22 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sympathy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sympathy. Accessed 25 Oct. 2020.

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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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