Sympathy is a feeling of pity or sense of compassion — it's when you feel bad for someone else who's going through something hard.

The ability to feel sympathy for others is a great part of what make us human, and it's what compels us to reach out and offer help. So have sympathy for people who confuse this word with empathy — they're awfully close in meaning. Feeling sympathy means you feel sorry for someone's situation, even if you've never been there yourself. Empathy is when you truly understand and can feel what another person is going though.

Definitions of sympathy
  1. noun
    sharing the feelings of others (especially feelings of sorrow or anguish)
    synonyms: fellow feeling
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    a feeling of sympathy for someone or something
    kind-heartedness, kindheartedness
    sympathy arising from a kind heart
    compassion, compassionateness
    a deep awareness of and sympathy for another's suffering
    commiseration, pathos, pity, ruth
    a feeling of sympathy and sorrow for the misfortunes of others
    a feeling of sympathetic understanding
    understanding and entering into another's feelings
    solicitousness, solicitude
    a feeling of excessive concern
    softheartedness, tenderness
    a feeling of concern for the welfare of someone (especially someone defenseless)
    your deepest feelings of love and compassion
    kindheartedness through maturity or old age
    tenderheartedness, tenderness
    warm compassionate feelings
    mercifulness, mercy
    the feeling that motivates compassion
    type of:
    the experiencing of affective and emotional states
  2. noun
    a relation of affinity or harmony between people; whatever affects one correspondingly affects the other
    “the two of them were in close sympathy
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    mutual affection, mutual understanding
    sympathy of each person for the other
    type of:
    affinity, kinship
    a close connection marked by community of interests or similarity in nature or character
  3. noun
    an inclination to support or be loyal to or to agree with an opinion
    “his sympathies were always with the underdog”
    synonyms: understanding
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    type of:
    disposition, inclination, tendency
    an attitude of mind especially one that favors one alternative over others
Commonly confused words

empathy / sympathy

Empathy is heartbreaking — you experience other people’s pain and joy. Sympathy is easier because you just have to feel sorry for someone. Send a sympathy card if someone’s cat died; feel empathy if your cat died, too.

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