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[kuh m-pash-uh n] /kəmˈpæʃ ən/
a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.
verb (used with object)
Archaic. to compassionate.
Origin of compassion
1300-50; Middle English (< Anglo-French) < Late Latin compassiōn- (stem of compassiō). See com-, passion
Related forms
compassionless, adjective
uncompassion, noun
uncompassioned, adjective
1. commiseration, mercy, tenderness, heart, clemency. See sympathy.
1. mercilessness, indifference. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for compassion
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Von Horn looked at him, a tinge of compassion in his rather hard face.

    The Monster Men Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • All this time I was the envy of my acquaintance; but I was more deserving of their compassion.

  • His compassion was still strong, but it was mingled with a great horror.

    The New Tenant E. Phillips Oppenheim
  • But when he came to the foot of the linden-tree his anger was changed to compassion.

  • I am sorry that I had a moment's compassion and made the attempt.

    The Brand of Silence Harrington Strong
British Dictionary definitions for compassion


a feeling of distress and pity for the suffering or misfortune of another, often including the desire to alleviate it
Word Origin
C14: from Old French, from Late Latin compassiō fellow feeling, from compatī to suffer with, from Latin com- with + patī to bear, suffer
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 compassion

mid-14c., from Old French compassion "sympathy, pity" (12c.), from Late Latin compassionem (nominative compassio) "sympathy," noun of state from past participle stem of compati "to feel pity," from com- "together" (see com-) + pati "to suffer" (see passion).

Latin compassio is an ecclesiastical loan-translation of Greek sympatheia (see sympathy). An Old English loan-translation of compassion was efenðrowung.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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