General English

  • noun a feeling of understanding for someone else’s problems, or after someone’s death


  • noun the feeling or expression of pity or sorrow for the pain or distress of somebody else
  • noun the relationship between people which causes one of them to provoke a similar condition to their own in the other one. For example, when the first person yawns, the second feels an urge to yawn too.
  • noun the influence produced on any part of the body by disease or change in another part

Origin & History of “sympathy”

Sympathy is etymologically ‘feeling with’ someone else. The word comes via Latin sympathīa from Greek sumpátheia, a derivative of sumpathḗs ‘feeling with or similarly to someone else’. this was a compound adjective formed from the prefix sun- ‘together, with, like’ and páthos ‘feeling’ (source of English pathetic (16th c.), pathology (17th c.), pathos (17th c.), etc).