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[pit-ee-uh s] /ˈpɪt i əs/
evoking or deserving pity; pathetic:
piteous cries for help.
Archaic. compassionate.
Origin of piteous
1250-1300; Middle English; replacing pitous < Old French < Medieval Latin pietōsus. See pity, -ous
Related forms
piteously, adverb
piteousness, noun
overpiteous, adjective
overpiteously, adverb
overpiteousness, noun
unpiteous, adjective
unpiteously, adverb
Can be confused
piteous, pitiable, pitiful, pitiless (see synonym study at pitiful)
1. affecting, moving, distressing, lamentable, woeful, sad, wretched, sorrowful. See pitiful. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for piteous
  • Hunter tells a piteous story of the privations and degradations of the dim, silent millions among us.
  • Then it made a piteous noise, a whee-whee-whee sound.
  • Hearing the piteous depths of her pain made the news report more vivid, the loss more palpable.
  • They lost their oars, became frightened, and let out a chorus of piteous yells.
  • Victorio made a piteous appeal to bo permitted to re main where his fathers were buried.
  • Brought from the field covered with rags and mud and blood, they are a piteous sight.
  • Often in the night she could not sleep on account of the groans of the sufferers, with their piteous calls for water.
  • Groans and piteous cries resounded in these forest shambles.
  • The lady hurried to the relief of the piteous prisoner, and handling it with the utmost care, freed it.
  • Oh, what a poor piteous cry of wounded pride and disappointment.
British Dictionary definitions for piteous


exciting or deserving pity
(archaic) having or expressing pity
Derived Forms
piteously, adverb
piteousness, noun
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 piteous

c.1300, from Anglo-French pitous, Old French pitos "pious; merciful, compassionate, moved to pity; pitiful" (12c., Modern French piteux), from Medieval Latin pietosus "merciful, pitiful," in Vulgar Latin "dutiful," from Latin pietas "dutiful conduct, compassion" (see piety). Related: Piteously; piteousness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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