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

  • adj. Inspiring or deserving pity.
  • adj. Arousing contemptuous pity, as through ineptitude or inadequacy. See Synonyms at pathetic.
  • adj. Archaic Filled with pity or compassion.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Feeling pity; merciful.
  • adj. So appalling or sad that one feels or should feel sorry for it; eliciting pity.
  • adj. Very small (of an amount or number).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Full of pity; tender-hearted; compassionate; kind; merciful; sympathetic.
  • adj. Piteous; lamentable; eliciting compassion.
  • adj. To be pitied for littleness or meanness; miserable; paltry; contemptible; despicable.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Full of pity; tender; compassionate; having a feeling of sorrow and sympathy for the distressed.
  • Exciting or fitted to excite pity or compassion; miserable; deplorable; sad: as, a pitiful condition; a pitiful look.
  • To be pitied for its littleness or meanness; paltry; insignificant; contemptible; despicable.

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

  • adj. bad; unfortunate
  • adj. deserving or inciting pity
  • adj. inspiring mixed contempt and pity


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From pity +‎ -ful.


  • Consider This: Not only is this name hard to spell and pronounce, but it also seems to conjure up the word pitiful.

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  • Lipton looked across at Conroy, his expression pitiful.

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  • They went around trying to get invited – how pitiful is that and even came with their own film crew.

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  • This model is in pitiful shape; it's warped with water damaged, faded from the sun, and set beneath a perpetual drip of water-runoff from the cliff above.

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  • A thousand dogs, in pitiful chorus, wailed their ancient wrongs and claimed mercy from the unheeding stars.

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  • The one thing that enlivened this trip was the appearance of naked Arabs, who would occasionally run along the banks of the canal, crying in pitiful tones, "bahkshish."

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  • I think that phrase pitiful giant is an awkward one.

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  • We are now what another beknighted president, in another war, called a pitiful, helpless giant.

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  • At this point, you have to decide whether it's hilarious or just plain pitiful.

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  • IMHO, calling the pitiful quartet of articles of questionable merit and doubtful applicability anything like a “scientific and intellectual program” verges awfully close on…well, on lying.

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