Pitiable describes something that's pathetic or miserable. After learning about the pitiable conditions of schools in parts of rural India, you might decide to donate supplies to them.

Just looking at pitiable gives you clues to its meaning. Pity is a feeling of sorrow for someone or something else, so something that's pitiable is worthy of pity. There's often a little bit of scorn thrown in, like the pitiable amount of cereal your stingy grandmother pours in your bowl at breakfast. In this case, there's some blame cast on the grandmother because she chooses to give so little cereal.

Definitions of pitiable
  1. adjective
    deserving or inciting pity
    pitiable homeless children”
    synonyms: hapless, miserable, misfortunate, pathetic, piteous, pitiful, poor, wretched
    not favored by fortune; marked or accompanied by or resulting in ill fortune
  2. adjective
    inspiring mixed contempt and pity
    pitiable lack of character”
    synonyms: pathetic, pitiful
    deserving of contempt or scorn
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