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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.



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empathy ‎(countable and uncountable, plural empathies)

  1. 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.
  2. (parapsychology, science fiction) A paranormal ability to psychically read another person's emotions.

Usage notes[edit]

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”.