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[pit-ee-uh-buh l] /ˈpɪt i ə bəl/
evoking or deserving pity; lamentable:
pitiable, homeless children.
evoking or deserving contemptuous pity; miserable; contemptible:
a pitiable lack of character.
Origin of pitiable
late Middle English
1425-75; late Middle English < Old French piteable, equivalent to pite(er) to pity + -able -able
Related forms
pitiableness, noun
pitiably, adverb
unpitiable, adjective
unpitiably, adverb
Can be confused
piteous, pitiable, pitiful, pitiless (see synonym study at pitiful)
1, 2. See pitiful. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for pitiable
  • He understands the difference between pitiable and pitiful.
  • The thought of deserting his weaker and more pitiable companions never perhaps occurred to him.
  • The skeleton cupboards are unlocked after so many years, and what they contain has withered to something merely sad and pitiable.
  • In a sense, their pitiable incapacity for self-awareness truly makes the novel.
  • Her attempt to be invincible turns into a pitiable failure.
  • Disability in and of itself is not tragic or pitiable.
  • Many reasons have been advanced to explain this pitiable and seemingly unending poor sector performance.
  • It was pitiable to see her hopeless sorrow, yet she endured and survived it.
  • It brings to mind images of helpless and pitiable persons groping along the street.
  • It ia pitiable to think that even journalists cannot always be trusted.
British Dictionary definitions for pitiable


exciting or deserving pity or contempt
Derived Forms
pitiableness, noun
pitiably, adverb
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 pitiable

mid-15c., "merciful, compassionate," from Old French piteable "compassionate, merciful, pious" (13c.; Modern French pitoyable), from piteer "to pity" (see pity). Meaning "deserving pity" is recorded from late 15c. Related: Pitiably.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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