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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
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Then her condition will be just as pitiable as that of Europe.

    Indian Home Rule M. K. Gandhi
  • The thing seemed to me altogether so pitiable—and yet—and yet, I had sworn.

    The First Violin Jessie Fothergill
  • pitiable, but not half so pitiable as the death of a human soul by sin.

    Town and Country Sermons Charles Kingsley
  • It was pitiable to see in it the stirrings of warmth that would be quenched for ever.

    Howards End E. M. Forster
  • Their infatuation had therefore its pitiable as well as its outrageous aspect.

    The Cradle of the Christ Octavius Brooks Frothingham
  • A pitiable description is given of the lodging he then occupied.

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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