sympathy

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English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

Borrowed from Middle French sympathie, from Late Latin sympathīa (feeling in common), from Ancient Greek σῠμπᾰ́θειᾰ (sumpátheia, fellow feeling), from σῠμπᾰθής (sumpathḗs, affected by like feelings; exerting mutual influence, interacting) +‎ -ῐᾰ (-ia, -y, nominal suffix); equivalent to sym- (acting or considered together) +‎ -pathy (feeling).

Pronunciation[edit]

  • IPA(key): /ˈsɪm.pəθ.i/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɪmpəθi

Noun[edit]

sympathy (countable and uncountable, plural sympathies)

  1. A feeling of pity or sorrow for the suffering or distress of another.
    • 2018, Sergeant first class Greg Stube, Conquer Anything: A Green Beret’s Guide to Building Your A-Team:
      If you want sympathy you’ll find it in the dictionary between shit and syphilis. Sympathy may pay well in the short term, but if you cash in on sympathy, it will take everything from you in the long run.
    Synonym: compassion
    1. (in the plural) The formal expression of pity or sorrow for someone else's misfortune.
    2. The ability to share the feelings of another.
  2. Inclination to think or feel alike; emotional or intellectual accord; common feeling.
    1. (in the plural) Support in the form of shared feelings or opinions.
    2. Feeling of loyalty; tendency towards, agreement with or approval of an opinion or aim; a favorable attitude.
      Many people in Hollywood were blacklisted merely because they were suspected of Communist sympathies.
  3. An affinity, association or mutual relationship between people or things such that they are correspondingly affected by any condition.
    • 1858, William Whewell, History of the Inductive Sciences:
      He observed, also, the frequent sympathy of volcanic and terremotive action in remote districts of the earth's surface, thus showing how deeply seated must be the cause of these convulsions.
    • 1936, Rollo Ahmed, The Black Art, London: Long, page 121:
      A peculiarity of were-animals is the sympathy that exists between their animal form and that of the human with whom it is connected.
    • 1997, Chris Horrocks, “The Renaissance Episteme”, in Introducing Foucault, Totem Books; Icon Books, →ISBN, page 67:
      Sympathy likened anything to anything else in universal attraction, e.g. the fate of men to the course of the planets.
    1. Mutual or parallel susceptibility or a condition brought about by it.
    2. (art) Artistic harmony, as of shape or colour in a painting.

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.

Antonyms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

References[edit]