Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Identification with and understanding of another's situation, feelings, and motives. See Synonyms at pity.
  • n. The attribution of one's own feelings to an object.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. the intellectual identification of the thoughts, feelings, or state of another person
  • n. capacity to understand another person's point of view or the result of such understanding
  • n. a paranormal ability to psychically read another person's emotions

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. understanding and entering into another's feelings

Etymologies

en-2 + -pathy (translation of German Einfühlung).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
A twentieth-century borrowing of Ancient Greek ἐμπάθεια (empatheia, literally "passion") (formed from ἐν (en-, "in, at") + πάθος (pathos, "feeling")), coined by Edward Bradford Titchener to translate German Einfühlung. The modern Greek word εμπάθεια has an opposite meaning denoting strong negative feelings and prejudice against someone. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The term empathy first appeared in the work of a German psychologist, Theodore Lipps, toward the end of the nineteenth century.

    Red Flags or Red Herrings?

  • For many conservatives, empathy is code for caring too much about, and being too soft on, woman and minorities.

    Barry Schwartz: Partial Justice

  • It is legitimate to be afraid that empathy is code for results-oriented jurisprudence, but empathy does not have to be such a codeword.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » Legal Ambiguity, Empathy, and the Role of Judicial Power:

  • GILLESPIE: Well, it was also consistent with President Obama's use of the phrase -- use of the term empathy, and it implied -- it played into a notion that this is going to be a judge who's going to have personal feelings play a role in judgment.

    CNN Transcript May 31, 2009

  • You know, I think this is a good conversation for us to be having, and for us to think about what President Obama meant when he used the term empathy, what it means for a judge to have empathy.

    CNN Transcript Jul 13, 2009

  • "I do not think it correct to use the term 'empathy' as the ability to gauge someone's feelings from a picture," said Dr. Kent Holtorf, founder of Holtorf Medical Group, which has offices in Foster City, Calif., Torrance, Calif. and St. Joseph, Mo.

    msnbc.com: Top msnbc.com headlines

  • His confession reveals that while in the past the Living Constitution's acolytes sought to achieve the amorphous goals of "social justice, brotherhood, and human dignity," a President Obama will feed the beast with what's left of individual rights and limited government, all in the name of "empathy" - a code word for something much darker: sacrifice of true constitutionalism to the needs of society's perceived victims

    The Two Malcontents

  • His confession reveals that while in the past the Living Constitution's acolytes sought to achieve the amorphous goals of "social justice, brotherhood, and human dignity," a President Obama will feed the beast with what's left of individual rights and limited government, all in the name of "empathy" -- a code word for something much darker: sacrifice of true constitutionalism to the needs of society's perceived victims

    ChronWatch - Articles

  • I believe his new founded interest in them was what they call empathy?

    Corpus of a Siam Mosquito

  • Most people don't associate the word "empathy" with effective leadership.

    Forbes.com: News

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