Definitions

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

  • n. Sympathy and sorrow aroused by the misfortune or suffering of another.
  • n. A matter of regret: It's a pity she can't attend the reception.
  • transitive v. To feel pity for.
  • intransitive v. To feel pity.
  • idiom have To show compassion for.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A feeling of sympathy at the misfortune or suffering of someone or something.
  • n. Something regrettable.
  • v. To feel pity for (someone or something).
  • interj. Short form of what a pity.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Piety.
  • n. A feeling for the sufferings or distresses of another or others; sympathy with the grief or misery of another; compassion; fellow-feeling; commiseration.
  • n. A reason or cause of pity, grief, or regret; a thing to be regretted.
  • intransitive v. To be compassionate; to show pity.
  • transitive v. To feel pity or compassion for; to have sympathy with; to compassionate; to commiserate; to have tender feelings toward (any one), awakened by a knowledge of suffering.
  • transitive v. To move to pity; -- used impersonally.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To excite pity in; fill with pity or compassion: used impersonally.
  • To feel pity or compassion for; compassionate; commiserate: as, to pity the blind or their misfortune; to pity the oppressed.
  • Synonyms To sympathize with, feel for. See pity, n.
  • To be compassionate; exercise pity.
  • n. Sympathetic sorrow for the suffering with another; a feeling which inspires one to relieve the suffering of another.
  • n. An appeal for pity.
  • n. A cause, matter, or source, of regret or grief; a thing to be regretted: as, it is a pity you lost it; it is a thousand pities that it should be so.
  • n. Synonyms pity, Compassion, Commiseration, Sympathy, condolence. Pity is the only one of these words that allows even a tinge of contempt; pity and Compassion come from one who is felt to be so far superior. Sympathy, on the other hand, puts the sufferer and the one sympathizing with him upon an equality by their fellow-feeling. Compassion does not keep so near its derivation; it is deep tenderness of feeling for one who is suffering. Sympathy is equal to compassion in its expression of tenderness. Commiseration is, by derivation, sharing another's misery; condolence is sharing another's grief. Commiseration may and condolence must stand for the communication to another of one's feelings of sorrow for his case. It is some comfort of receive commiseration or condolence; it gives one strength to receive sympathy from a loving heart; it is irksome to need compassion; it galls us to be pitied. Sympathy does not necessarily imply more than kinship of feeling. See also the quotations under condolence.

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

  • n. a feeling of sympathy and sorrow for the misfortunes of others
  • n. an unfortunate development
  • n. the humane quality of understanding the suffering of others and wanting to do something about it
  • v. share the suffering of

Etymologies

Middle English pite, from Old French, from Latin pietās, piety, compassion, from pius, dutiful.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Anglo-Norman pité, pittee etc., from Old French pitet, pitié, from Latin pietās. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • More helpful than all wisdom is one draught of simple human pity that will not forsake us.
    -George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss

    July 27, 2009