9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[pit-i-fuh l] /ˈpɪt ɪ fəl/
evoking or deserving pity:
a pitiful fate.
evoking or deserving contempt by smallness, poor quality, etc.:
pitiful attempts.
Archaic. full of pity; compassionate.
Origin of pitiful
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English; see pity, -ful
Related forms
pitifully, adverb
pitifulness, noun
self-pitiful, adjective
self-pitifully, adverb
self-pitifulness, noun
unpitiful, adjective
unpitifully, adverb
unpitifulness, noun
Can be confused
piteous, pitiable, pitiful, pitiless (see synonym study at the current entry)
1. lamentable, deplorable, woeful, pathetic. 1, 2. Pitiful, pitiable, piteous apply to that which excites pity (with compassion or with contempt). That which is pitiful is touching and excites pity or is mean and contemptible: a pitiful leper; a pitiful exhibition of cowardice. Pitiable may mean lamentable, or wretched and paltry: a pitiable hovel. Piteous refers only to that which exhibits suffering and misery, and is therefore heart-rending: piteous poverty. 2. deplorable, mean, low, base, vile, despicable.
1. delightful. 2. honorable. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for pitiful
  • But there are three portable exercising aids that render the usual excuses pitiful.
  • Your pitiful attempt to be courteous was an abysmal failure.
  • Peace is holding in troubled north of the country, but the economy there remains in a pitiful state.
  • But the testing program the agency plans to use is only a pitiful skeleton of what it needs to be.
  • It's easy too see these imitators as pitiful and annoying.
  • The endless bawling of calves being separated from their mothers sounded doubly pitiful today here at the auction block.
  • The toll-keeper seemed to be also conscious of the touching and pitiful nature of the occasion.
  • In both countries a lack of capital has produced pitiful fishing fleets.
  • But they can't because they weigh way too much for the pitiful capacity they hold.
  • The returns they are getting on their savings look increasingly pitiful.
British Dictionary definitions for pitiful


arousing or deserving pity
arousing or deserving contempt
(archaic) full of pity or compassion
Derived Forms
pitifully, adverb
pitifulness, 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 pitiful

c.1300, "merciful, compassionate" (implied in pitifully), from pity + -ful. Sense of "exciting or deserving pity" is from mid-15c.; that of "mean, wretched, contemptible" is 1580s. Related: Pitifulness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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