A twentieth-century borrowing of Ancient Greek ἐμπάθεια (empátheia, literally “passion”) (formed from ἐν (en, “in, at”) + πάθος (páthos, “feeling”)), coined by Edward Bradford Titchener to translate German Einfühlung. The modern Greek word εμπάθεια (empátheia) has an opposite meaning denoting strong negative feelings and prejudice against someone.
- identification with or understanding of the thoughts, feelings, or emotional state of another person
- She had a lot of empathy for her neighbor; she knew what it was like to lose a parent too.
- (parapsychology, science fiction) a paranormal ability to psychically read another person's emotions
Used similarly to sympathy, interchangeably in looser usage. In stricter usage, empathy is stronger and more intimate, meaning that the subject understands and shares an emotion with the object – as in “I feel your pain” – while sympathy is weaker and more distant – concern, but not shared emotion: “I care for you”.