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

There will be no sympathy for the Warriors, nor should there be. Ann Killion, SFChronicle.com, "Even if Warriors conjure historic comeback, their dynastic era is ending," 8 June 2019 One is to bolster opposition to race-sensitive admissions by fueling sympathy for, and resentment among, unsuccessful minority applicants. Yuvraj Joshi, Teen Vogue, "Why the Affirmative Action Case Against Harvard Isn’t Actually About Fair Treatment for Minority Students," 16 Oct. 2018 My sympathies to his daughter and relatives, my gratitude for having known him as a friend. James Fallows, The Atlantic, "Remembering Peter Claeys," 21 Apr. 2018 Iraqi authorities spared little time, or sympathy, for those that survived the journey back to Baghdad. David Brennan, Newsweek, "Iraq Will Hang 3,000 Prisoners Over ISIS Links, Report Shows," 21 Mar. 2018 For their part, members of the royal family were quick to issue messages of sympathy. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "The Royal Family Sends Condolences to the Families and Victims of the New Zealand Shootings," 15 Mar. 2019 The only thing standing in the way of the army’s plan is voters’ apparent sympathy for Mr Sharif. The Economist, "Pakistan’s army is using every trick to sideline Nawaz Sharif," 21 June 2018 Credit: Ashley Clark via Storyful Media: Storyful Daughter Missing Dad in Kansas Dear Daughter: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your father. Houston Chronicle, "Father’s Day is bitter reminder for daughter mourning her dad," 16 June 2018 Many within the ski community used social media to express their sympathy to ski racer Bode Miller and his family following the death of their 19-month-old daughter, Emmy, over the weekend. Matt Pepin, BostonGlobe.com, "Skiing community expresses sympathy following death of Bode Miller’s daughter," 12 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

13 Jun 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

showing great care, attention, and effort

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Finance Words Quiz

  • a-piggy-bank
  • The etymology of mortgage is related most closely to which two words?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!