What does pitiful mean?

Definitions for pitiful
ˈpɪt ɪ fəlpiti·ful

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word pitiful.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. pathetic, pitiable, pitifuladjective

    inspiring mixed contempt and pity

    "their efforts were pathetic"; "pitiable lack of character"; "pitiful exhibition of cowardice"

  2. deplorable, distressing, lamentable, pitiful, sad, sorryadjective

    bad; unfortunate

    "my finances were in a deplorable state"; "a lamentable decision"; "her clothes were in sad shape"; "a sorry state of affairs"

  3. hapless, miserable, misfortunate, pathetic, piteous, pitiable, pitiful, poor, wretchedadjective

    deserving or inciting pity

    "a hapless victim"; "miserable victims of war"; "the shabby room struck her as extraordinarily pathetic"- Galsworthy; "piteous appeals for help"; "pitiable homeless children"; "a pitiful fate"; "Oh, you poor thing"; "his poor distorted limbs"; "a wretched life"


  1. pitifuladjective

    Feeling pity; merciful.

  2. pitifuladjective

    So appalling or sad that one feels or should feel sorry for it; eliciting pity.

    Scotland has a pitiful climate.

  3. pitifuladjective

    Very small (of an amount or number).

    A pitiful number of students bothered to turn up.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Pitifuladjective

    Etymology: pity and full

    Some, who have not deserved judgment of death, have been for their goods sake caught up and carried straight to the bough; a thing indeed very pitiful and horrible. Edmund Spenser.

    A sight most pitiful in the meanest wretch,
    Past speaking of in a king. William Shakespeare, King Lear.

    Strangely visited people,
    All swoln and ulc’rous, pitiful to the eye;
    The mere despair of surgery he cures. William Shakespeare, Macbeth.

    Will he his pitiful complaints renew?
    For freedom with afflicted language sue. George Sandys.

    The conveniency of this will appear, if we consider what a pitiful condition we had been in. John Ray, on the Creation.

    Would my heart were flint, like Edward’s,
    Or Edward’s soft and pitiful, like mine. William Shakespeare.

    Be pitiful to my condemned sons,
    Whose souls are not corrupted. William Shakespeare.

    That’s villainous, and shews a most pitiful ambition in the fool that uses it. William Shakespeare, Hamlet.

    One, in a wild pamphlet, besides other pitiful malignities, would scarce allow him to be a gentleman. Henry Wotton.

    The accusations against him contained much frivolous matter or pitiful. John Hayward.

    This is the doom of fallen man, to exhaust his time and impair his health, and perhaps to spin out his days and himself into one pitiful controverted conclusion. South.

    Sin can please no longer, than for that pitiful space of time while it is committing; and surely the present pleasure of a sinful act is a poor countervail for the bitterness which begins where the action ends, and lasts for ever. Robert South, Sermons.

    If these pitiful shanks were answerable to this branching head, I should defy all my enemies. Roger L'Estrange, Fables.

    What entertainment can be raised from so pitiful a machine, where we see the success of the battle from the beginning. John Dryden, Juvenal. Dedication to.


  1. Pitiful

    Pitiful is the fourth single released from Sick Puppies 2007 album Dressed Up as Life. This song talks about how useless someone thinks their life is, to the point where they feel like killing themselves. The person has been looking for a reason to not end it all, but hasn't found one by the end of the song. The subject of the song has abused all the drugs he knows of, with the only exceptions being heroin and cyanide because he "can't afford them yet".


  1. pitiful

    Pitiful generally refers to something that evokes feelings of pity, sympathy or compassion because it is suffering, disadvantaged, poor, or pathetic in some way. It can also mean something that is remarkably bad or inadequate.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Pitifuladjective

    full of pity; tender-hearted; compassionate; kind; merciful; sympathetic

  2. Pitifuladjective

    piteous; lamentable; eliciting compassion

  3. Pitifuladjective

    to be pitied for littleness or meanness; miserable; paltry; contemptible; despicable

How to pronounce pitiful?

How to say pitiful in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of pitiful in Chaldean Numerology is: 4

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of pitiful in Pythagorean Numerology is: 3

Examples of pitiful in a Sentence

  1. Marcio Astrini:

    This is a sick statement, a pitiful statement, increased deforestation and burning are the result of his anti-environmental policy.

  2. John Bunyan:

    Faithful: What! why he (Shame) objected against religion itself; he said it was a pitiful, low, sneaking business for a man to mind religion; he said that a tender conscious was an unmanly thing; and that for a man to watch over his words and ways, so as to tie himself up from that hectoring liberty that the brave spirits of the times accustom themselves unto, would make him the ridicule of the times.”

  3. Longinus:

    Love of money is the disease which renders us most pitiful and grovelling, and love of pleasure is that which renders us most despicable.

  4. Kristen Bell:

    I refuse to spend my final moments being allowed to play with these people in misery -- I think that would be pitiful, i didn't want to let that ruin it, because it is a gift. It really does feel like we did it for a reason, and when you see the ending you'll know.

  5. Assistant District Attorney Melissa Woodward:

    This was by all accounts a double murder with a pitiful feigned suicide attempt by the defendant.

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Translations for pitiful

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

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"pitiful." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 4 Oct. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/pitiful>.

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    fortification consisting of a low wall
    • A. breastwork
    • B. snap
    • C. hunch
    • D. whitewash

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