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or pathetical

[puh-thet-ik] /pəˈθɛt ɪk/
causing or evoking pity, sympathetic sadness, sorrow, etc.; pitiful; pitiable:
a pathetic letter; a pathetic sight.
affecting or moving the feelings.
pertaining to or caused by the feelings.
miserably or contemptibly inadequate:
In return for our investment we get a pathetic three percent interest.
Origin of pathetic
1590-1600; < Late Latin pathēticus < Greek pathētikós sensitive equivalent to pathēt(ós) made or liable to suffer (verbid of páschein to suffer + -ikos -ic
Related forms
pathetically, adverb
patheticalness, noun
hyperpathetic, adjective
hyperpathetical, adjective
hyperpathetically, adverb
quasi-pathetic, adjective
quasi-pathetically, adverb
unpathetic, adjective
unpathetically, adverb
Can be confused
bathetic, pathetic.
1. plaintive. 2. touching, tender. 3. emotional. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for pathetically
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Evidently she was not quite so pathetically helpless as he had supposed the afternoon before.

    Shoe-Bar Stratton Joseph Bushnell Ames
  • It is a most pathetically pure, chaste presentation of a grand subject.

    Almost A Man Mary Wood-Allen
  • Miss Jemima pathetically entreated that he would at least wear gloves.

    The Golden Shoemaker J. W. Keyworth
  • A clumsy, forecastle method, and most pathetically engaging, to be sure!

  • And her voice sank into a solemn whisper, pathetically ludicrous.

    At the Villa Rose A. E. W. Mason
British Dictionary definitions for pathetically


evoking or expressing pity, sympathy, etc
distressingly inadequate: the old man sat huddled in front of a pathetic fire
(Brit, informal) ludicrously or contemptibly uninteresting or worthless: the standard of goalkeeping in amateur football today is pathetic
(obsolete) of or affecting the feelings
plural noun
pathetic sentiments
Derived Forms
pathetically, adverb
Word Origin
C16: from French pathétique, via Late Latin from Greek pathetikos sensitive, from pathos suffering; see pathos
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 pathetically



1590s, "affecting the emotions, exciting the passions," from Middle French pathétique "moving, stirring, affecting" (16c.), from Late Latin patheticus, from Greek pathetikos "subject to feeling, sensitive, capable of emotion," from pathetos "liable to suffer," verbal adjective of pathein "to suffer" (see pathos). Meaning "arousing pity, pitiful" is first recorded 1737. Colloquial sense of "so miserable as to be ridiculous" is attested from 1937. Related: Pathetical (1570s); pathetically. Pathetic fallacy (1856, first used by Ruskin) is the attribution of human qualities to inanimate objects.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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