sympathy empathy pity n.
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Sympathy. Empathy. Pity. How are they different?. SYMPATHY. denotes feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else's misfortune. SYMPATHY. The  noun sympathy  denotes feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else's misfortune. For example :

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sympathy empathy pity


How are they different?



denotes feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else's misfortune.


The nounsympathy denotes feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else's misfortune. For example:

  • You have my utmost sympathy. You trained like crazy for that race. 
  • I would like to extend my sympathy to your son. I'm very sorry to hear of the death of his goldfish. 

The corresponding verbis to sympathize:The professor will sympathize with you. She knows how hard you trained. 

  • (There is no suggestion the professor has trained hard herself (that would be empathize not sympathize). As a result, the prepositionwith does not feel right with to sympathize because sympathizing usually means you haven't experienced the bad event yourself. With seems a better fit for empathize. However, it is used with both verbs.)

Sympathy is not always about feelings of pity and sorrow.

It can also mean to understand or to agree with. It also has the feeling ofnot full support.

For example: 

  • It's hard not to have sympathy with their claims. 
  • It's clear from her inaction that she sympathizes with their cause. 


denotes the ability to understand and share the feelings of another (having shared the same, or a similar, experience).


The noun empathydenotes the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. This ability usually derives from having shared the same, or a similar, experience. For example, you can have empathy for a poor person if you are, or were, poor.

  • I have empathy for your problem. I've been there. 
  • Empathy is at the heart of the actor's art.  (Meryl Streep)
  • “The great gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy.” ( Meryl Streep)
  • Friendship is a living thing that lasts only as long as it is nourished with kindness, empathy and understanding.  (anon)

The corresponding verb is to empathize:I can empathize with you. I've been there. 

He will empathize with you. He managed the same department for ten years.



sympathetic or kindly sorrow evoked by the suffering, distress, or 

misfortune of another, often leading one to give relief or aid or to show mercy:to feel pity for a starving child.

  • Pity, on the other hand, tends to have a negative connotation. 
  • But, according to, the word comes from the early 13th century Old French pite, pitet, from the Latin pietatemmeaning “piety, affection, duty,” and in Late Latin “gentleness, kindness, pity,” from pius(which comes from Latin meaning “dutiful, kind, devout”).
  • In relating the word pity to pius, i.e., duty, it appears that having a feeling of pity is caused by a sense of responsibility, rather than a genuine feeling of kindness.