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[pit-ee] /ˈpɪt i/
noun, plural pities.
sympathetic or kindly sorrow evoked by the suffering, distress, or misfortune of another, often leading one to give relief or aid or to show mercy:
to feel pity for astarving child.
a cause or reason for pity, sorrow, or regret:
What a pity you could not go!
verb (used with object), pitied, pitying.
to feel pity or compassion for; be sorry for; commiserate with.
verb (used without object), pitied, pitying.
to have compassion; feel pity.
have / take pity, to show mercy or compassion.
Origin of pity
1175-1225; Middle English pite < Old French pite, earlier pitet < Latin pietāt- (stem of pietās) piety
Related forms
outpity, verb (used with object), outpitied, outpitying.
unpitied, adjective
1. commiseration, compassion. See sympathy. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for pity
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She was indeed a peculiar girl—the more the pity for the many that made her so!

    Weighed and Wanting George MacDonald
  • Her last waking thoughts (and they were very late) were of pity and of prayer.

    Deerbrook Harriet Martineau
  • That's a pity, for you could have chatted with Herr Ignaz in it.

    That Boy Of Norcott's Charles James Lever
  • "Sylvia does not need your pity," cried Beecot, stung by the insinuation.

    The Opal Serpent Fergus Hume
  • “You have been in the water, I fear,” said Barret, in a tone of pity.

    The Eagle Cliff R.M. Ballantyne
British Dictionary definitions for pity


noun (pl) pities
sympathy or sorrow felt for the sufferings of another
have pity on, take pity on, to have sympathy or show mercy for
something that causes regret or pity
an unfortunate chance: what a pity you can't come
more's the pity, it is highly regrettable (that)
verb pities, pitying, pitied
(transitive) to feel pity for
Derived Forms
pitying, adjective
pityingly, adverb
Word Origin
C13: from Old French pité, from Latin pietās duty
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for pity

early 13c., from Old French pite, pitet "pity, mercy, compassion, care, tenderness; pitiful state, wretched condition" (11c., Modern French pitié), from Latin pietatem (nominative pietas) "piety, loyalty, duty" (see piety). Replaced Old English mildheortness, literally "mild-heartness," itself a loan-translation of Latin misericordia. English pity and piety were not fully distinguished until 17c. Transferred sense of "grounds or cause for pity" is from late 14c.


"to feel pity for," late 15c., from Old French pitier and from pity (n.). Related: Pitied; pitying.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with pity
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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