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From Middle French sympathie, from Late Latin sympathia, from Ancient Greek συμπάθεια (sumpátheia), from σύν (sún, with, together) + πάθος (páthos, suffering).



sympathy (plural sympathies)

  1. A feeling of pity or sorrow for the suffering or distress of another; compassion.
  2. The ability to share the feelings of another;
  3. A mutual relationship between people or things such that they are correspondingly affected by any condition.
    • 1997: Chris Horrocks, Introducing Foucault, page 67, The Renaissance Episteme (Totem Books, Icon Books; ISBN 1840460865)
      'Sympathy' likened anything to anything else in universal attraction, e.g. the fate of men to the course of the planets.

Usage notes[edit]

Used similarly to empathy, interchangeably in looser usage. In stricter usage, empathy is stronger and more intimate, while sympathy is weaker and more distant; see empathy: usage notes.


Derived terms[edit]


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