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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

As fans continue to celebrate special appearances from *NSYNC and Nicki Minaj, others have expressed their sympathy for Nicki, who faced sound issues during her duet with Ariana. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj Faced Technical Issues at Coachella 2019," 15 Apr. 2019 Several Deadliest Catch stars shared their sympathy shortly after news of the tragedy broke, including Captain Keith Colburn. Blair Donovan, Country Living, "'Deadliest Catch' Season 15 Premiere Pays Tribute to Fishermen Who Lost Their Lives," 14 Apr. 2019 My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques. Lynn Yaeger, Vogue, "The Week in Washington: “Get Rid of My Kids!”," 17 Mar. 2019 Her announcement was met with a wave of support from fans, who offered sympathy, prayers, and other words of encouragement in the comments section of her post. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "American Idol's Lauren Alaina Calls Off Engagement to Longtime Boyfriend Alex Hopkins," 22 Jan. 2019 His ex-wife most likely had Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a condition where a caregiver fabricates health problems of their charges, with the intent to gain sympathy and attention. Rose Minutaglio, Good Housekeeping, "Gypsy Rose Blanchard: A Look Back at Her Surreal Childhood and the Mother She Murdered," 6 Nov. 2018 Many fans felt the video came off like Lee wasn't truly sorry and instead was using it to seek sympathy and forgiveness. Zoe Weiner, Allure, "Laura Lee Is Attempting to Apologize Again for Her Controversial Tweets," 27 Sep. 2018 Deepest sympathies and warmth go out to the families and friends of the victims. Fox News, "Carter Page reacts to calls to declassify FISA documents," 15 Sep. 2018 Talking about the opioid crisis that kills 21 Floridians a day prompts most politicians to go serious and nod in sympathy. Lauren Ritchie, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Candidate says wild life has prepared him for office," 16 June 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about sympathy

Statistics for sympathy

Last Updated

18 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sympathy

The first known use of sympathy was in 1579

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for sympathy

sympathy

noun

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on sympathy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sympathy

Spanish Central: Translation of sympathy

Nglish: Translation of sympathy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sympathy for Arabic Speakers

Comments on sympathy

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to affect and impair by alcohol or a drug

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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!