the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.
the imaginative ascribing to an object, as a natural object or work of art, feelings or attitudes present in oneself: By means of empathy, a great painting becomes a mirror of the self.

1900–05; < Greek empátheia affection, equivalent to em- em-2 + path- (base of páschein to suffer) + -eia -ia; present meaning translates German Einfühlung

empathy, sympathy (see synonym study at sympathy).

1. See sympathy.
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World English Dictionary
empathy (ˈɛmpəθɪ)
1.  See also identification the power of understanding and imaginatively entering into another person's feelings
2.  the attribution to an object, such as a work of art, of one's own emotional or intellectual feelings about it
[C20: from Greek empatheia affection, passion, intended as a rendering of German Einfühlung, literally: a feeling in; see en-², -pathy]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1903, translation of Ger. Einfühlung (from ein "in" + Fühlung "feeling"), coined 1858 by Ger. philosopher Rudolf Lotze (1817-81) from Gk. empatheia "passion," from en- "in" + pathos "feeling" (see pathos). A term from a theory of art appreciation.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

empathy em·pa·thy (ěm'pə-thē)

  1. Direct identification with, understanding of, and vicarious experience of another person's situation, feelings, and motives.

  2. The projection of one's own feelings or emotional state onto an object or animal.

em'pa·thet'ic (-thět'ĭk) or em·path'ic (-pāth'ĭk) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary
empathy [(em-puh-thee)]

Identifying oneself completely with an object or person, sometimes even to the point of responding physically, as when, watching a baseball player swing at a pitch, one feels one's own muscles flex.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
There are numerous shortcuts and tricks that a clever programmer can exploit to
  give the impression of empathy and understanding.
His utter lack of empathy and understanding-- on any level-- prevents him from
  forming health relationships.
Humans are not the only species capable of empathy.
Maybe my lack of empathy has something to do with that.
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