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 This isn’t coming out of sympathy for the San Antonio Police Officers Association. Gilbert Garcia, ExpressNews.com, "Garcia: Fix SAPD petition drive spurs questions on the best route to police reform," 14 Jan. 2021 The news of the collapses prompted words of sympathy from leading politicians. David Meyer, Fortune, "COVID-19 chaos: U.K. retail giants Arcadia and Debenhams collapse, threatening 25,000 jobs," 1 Dec. 2020 Yet the moment outsiders show even a hint of sympathy for the Welsh cause or appreciation of the place, they’re typically welcomed with open arms. Travel, "Why the mystique of Wales gave strength to a legendary writer," 25 Nov. 2020 Typically defined as owners with less than 20 units, small landlords are an important source of affordable housing in the city, but typically don’t have the political clout of large developers nor the public sympathy of struggling tenants. Washington Post, "‘No safety net’ and little sympathy. Some small landlords struggle under eviction moratoriums.," 9 Dec. 2020 The defense knew that Wheeler, claiming that the group threatened to slit his throat, could very well have the sympathy of the jury; the defendants needed a defendant. Carrie Hagen, Smithsonian Magazine, "The Courageous Tale of Jane Johnson, Who Risked Her Freedom for Those Who Helped Her Escape Slavery," 16 Nov. 2020 In contrast, Kennedy risked those votes by calling Coretta Scott King to express sympathy and had his brother Robert Kennedy call the judge in Georgia. Stephen Kendrick, Fortune, "MLK was arrested before the 1960 election. Nixon and JFK’s reactions offer lessons for Trump and Biden," 31 Oct. 2020 Driven by the Black Lives Matter movement, this shift has primed the country for a new groundswell, one that has quickly earned the sympathy of most Americans, polling shows. Giovanni Russonello, BostonGlobe.com, "Why most Americans support the protests," 5 June 2020 Trump complained that the media had not taken his fraud claims more seriously and alleged that foreign leaders had expressed sympathy for his plight. Democrat-gazette Staff From Wire Reports, Arkansas Online, "Vote a fraud, Trump insists," 30 Nov. 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

20 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sympathy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sympathy. Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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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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