What does sympathy mean?

Definitions for sympathy
ˈsɪm pə θisym·pa·thy

Here are all the possible meanings and translations of the word sympathy.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. sympathy, understandingnoun

    an inclination to support or be loyal to or to agree with an opinion

    "his sympathies were always with the underdog"; "I knew I could count on his understanding"

  2. sympathy, fellow feelingnoun

    sharing the feelings of others (especially feelings of sorrow or anguish)

  3. sympathynoun

    a relation of affinity or harmony between people; whatever affects one correspondingly affects the other

    "the two of them were in close sympathy"


  1. Sympathynoun

    (Physiol. & Med.) (a) The reciprocal influence exercised by organs or parts on one another, as shown in the effects of a diseased condition of one part on another part or organ, as in the vomiting produced by a tumor of the brain. (b) The influence of a certain psychological state in one person in producing a like state in another. In the original 1890 work, sense (b) was described as:


  1. sympathynoun

    A feeling of pity or sorrow for the suffering or distress of another; compassion.

  2. sympathynoun

    The ability to share the feelings of another;

  3. sympathynoun

    A mutual relationship between people or things such that they are correspondingly affected by any condition.

  4. Etymology: From sympathie, from sympathia, from συμπάθεια, from σύν + πάθος.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. SYMPATHYnoun

    Fellowfeeling; mutual sensibility; the quality of being affected by the affection of another.

    Etymology: sympathie, French; συμϖάϑεια.

    A world of earthly blessings to my soul,
    If sympathy of love unite our thoughts. William Shakespeare, H. VI.

    You are not young; no more am I: go to, then, there’s sympathy: you are merry, so am I; ha! ha! then there’s more sympathy: you love sack, and so do I; would you desire better sympathy? William Shakespeare, Merry Wives of Windsor.

    But what it is,
    The action of my life is like it, which I’ll keep,
    If but for sympathy. William Shakespeare, Cymbeline.

    If there was a sympathy in choice,
    War, death, or sickness did lay siege to it. William Shakespeare.

    I started back;
    It started back: but pleas’d I soon return’d;
    Pleas’d it return’d as soon, with answering looks
    Of sympathy and love. John Milton, Paradise Lost.

    They saw, but other sight instead, a crowd
    Of ugly serpents: horror on them fell,
    And horrid sympathy. John Milton.

    Or sympathy, or some connat’ral force,
    Pow’rful at greatest distance to unite,
    With secret amity, things of like kind,
    By secretest conveyance. John Milton, Paradise Lost.

    There never was any heart truly great and generous, that was not also tender and compassionate: it is this noble quality that makes all men to be of one kind; for every man would be a distinct species to himself, were there no sympathy among individuals. Robert South, Sermons.

    Can kindness to desert, like your’s, be strange?
    Kindness by secret sympathy is ty’d;
    For noble souls in nature are ally’d. Dryden.

    There are such associations made in the minds of most men, and to this might be attributed most of the sympathies and antipathies observable in them. John Locke.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Sympathynoun

    feeling corresponding to that which another feels; the quality of being affected by the affection of another, with feelings correspondent in kind, if not in degree; fellow-feeling

  2. Sympathynoun

    an agreement of affections or inclinations, or a conformity of natural temperament, which causes persons to be pleased, or in accord, with one another; as, there is perfect sympathy between them

  3. Sympathynoun

    kindness of feeling toward one who suffers; pity; commiseration; compassion

  4. Sympathynoun

    the reciprocal influence exercised by the various organs or parts of the body on one another, as manifested in the transmission of a disease by unknown means from one organ to another quite remote, or in the influence exerted by a diseased condition of one part on another part or organ, as in the vomiting produced by a tumor of the brain

  5. Sympathynoun

    that relation which exists between different persons by which one of them produces in the others a state or condition like that of himself. This is shown in the tendency to yawn which a person often feels on seeing another yawn, or the strong inclination to become hysteric experienced by many women on seeing another person suffering with hysteria

  6. Sympathynoun

    a tendency of inanimate things to unite, or to act on each other; as, the sympathy between the loadstone and iron

  7. Sympathynoun

    similarity of function, use office, or the like

  8. Etymology: [F. sympathie, L. sympathia, Gr. ; sy`n with + suffering, passion, fr. , , to suffer. See Syn-, and Pathos.]


  1. Sympathy

    Sympathy is a feeling and concern. Or it can be the perception, understanding, and reaction to the distress or need of another human being. This empathic concern is driven by a switch in viewpoint, from a personal perspective to the perspective of another group or individual who is in need. Empathy and sympathy are often used interchangeably. Sympathy is a feeling, but the two terms have distinct origins and meanings. Empathy refers to the understanding and sharing of a specific emotional state with another person. Sympathy does not require the sharing of the same emotional state. Instead, sympathy is a concern for the well-being of another. Although sympathy may begin with empathizing with the same emotion another person is feeling, sympathy can be extended to other emotional states.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Sympathy

    sim′pa-thi, n. like feeling: an agreement of inclination, feeling, or sensation: compassion: pity: tenderness: an agreement of affections or inclinations, or a conformity of natural temperament: mutual conformity of parts in the fine arts: correspondence of parts in similar sensations or affections, or the affection of the whole body or system, or some part of it, in consequence of local injury or disease: propensity of inanimate bodies to union or mutual action: the effective union of colours.—adjs. Sympathet′ic, -al, showing, or inclined to, sympathy: feeling with another: able to sympathise: compassionate: produced by sympathy: uniting viscera and blood-vessels in a nervous action common to them all: noting sounds induced by vibrations conveyed through air, &c., from a body already in vibration.—adv. Sympathet′ically.—n. Sympathet′icism, undue disipostion to be sympathetic.—v.i. Sym′pathise, to have sympathy: to feel with or for another: to be compassionate.—ns. Sym′pathiser; Sym′pathism; Sym′pathist.—Sympathetic ink (see Ink). [Gr. sympatheiasyn, with, pathos, suffering.]

The Roycroft Dictionary

  1. sympathy

    1. A malady that sometimes afflicts the rich. 2. The lees of the wine-cup offered to another. 3. An impulse toward ourselves through the heart of another. 4. Whatever may be extended to another that does not take the shape of money. 5. The sum of all virtues. 6. The first attribute of love as well as its last. (I am not sure but that sympathy is love's own self, vitalized mayhap by some divine actinic ray. Only the souls who have suffered are well loved.)

The Foolish Dictionary, by Gideon Wurdz


    Feeling for others; very noticeable in Blind Man's Buff.

Matched Categories

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'sympathy' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #4282

  2. Written Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'sympathy' in Written Corpus Frequency: #4633

  3. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'sympathy' in Nouns Frequency: #1622

How to pronounce sympathy?

How to say sympathy in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of sympathy in Chaldean Numerology is: 9

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of sympathy in Pythagorean Numerology is: 1

Examples of sympathy in a Sentence

  1. Emma Goldman:

    No one has yet realized the wealth of sympathy, the kindness and generosity hidden in the soul of a child. The effort of every true education should be to unlock that treasure.

  2. Chancellor Angela Merkel:

    There's no drawing a line under the history, we can see that in the Greece debate and in other European countries. We Germans have a special responsibility to be alert, sensitive and aware of what we did during the Nazi era and about lasting damage caused in other countries. I've got tremendous sympathy for that.

  3. Beaumont Hospital:

    The loss of a child, at any time, under any circumstances, is a tragedy, we are heartbroken that COVID-19 has taken the life of a child. We extend our deepest sympathy to Skylar's family and all others who have lost a loved one to this virus.

  4. Basil W. Maturin:

    I believe there are few whose view of life has not been affected by the stern or kindly influences of their early childhood, which threw them in upon themselves in timidity and reserve, or drew them out in genial confidence and sympathy with their fellow creatures.

  5. Scott Partridge:

    We all have sympathy for Mr. Dewayne Johnson, it's natural Dewayne Johnson's looking for answers. Glyphosate is not the answer.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for sympathy

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

Get even more translations for sympathy »


Find a translation for the sympathy definition in other languages:

Select another language:

  • - Select -
  • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
  • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
  • Español (Spanish)
  • Esperanto (Esperanto)
  • 日本語 (Japanese)
  • Português (Portuguese)
  • Deutsch (German)
  • العربية (Arabic)
  • Français (French)
  • Русский (Russian)
  • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
  • 한국어 (Korean)
  • עברית (Hebrew)
  • Gaeilge (Irish)
  • Українська (Ukrainian)
  • اردو (Urdu)
  • Magyar (Hungarian)
  • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
  • Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Italiano (Italian)
  • தமிழ் (Tamil)
  • Türkçe (Turkish)
  • తెలుగు (Telugu)
  • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
  • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
  • Čeština (Czech)
  • Polski (Polish)
  • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Românește (Romanian)
  • Nederlands (Dutch)
  • Ελληνικά (Greek)
  • Latinum (Latin)
  • Svenska (Swedish)
  • Dansk (Danish)
  • Suomi (Finnish)
  • فارسی (Persian)
  • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
  • հայերեն (Armenian)
  • Norsk (Norwegian)
  • English (English)

Word of the Day

Would you like us to send you a FREE new word definition delivered to your inbox daily?

Please enter your email address:

Discuss these sympathy definitions with the community:



    Use the citation below to add this definition to your bibliography:


    "sympathy." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 31 Jan. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/sympathy>.

    Are we missing a good definition for sympathy? Don't keep it to yourself...

    Image or illustration of


    Credit »

    Browse Definitions.net

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Chrome

    Get instant definitions for any word that hits you anywhere on the web!

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Firefox

    Get instant definitions for any word that hits you anywhere on the web!


    Are you a words master?

    immoderately desirous of acquiring e.g. wealth
    • A. nasty
    • B. handsome
    • C. dangerous
    • D. greedy

    Nearby & related entries:

    Alternative searches for sympathy: