adjective pa·thet·ic \pə-ˈthe-tik\

: causing feelings of sadness and sympathy

: very bad, poor, weak, etc.

Full Definition of PATHETIC

:  having a capacity to move one to either compassionate or contemptuous pity
:  marked by sorrow or melancholy :  sad
:  pitifully inferior or inadequate <the restaurant's pathetic service>
:  absurd, laughable <a pathetic costume>
pa·thet·i·cal \-ti-kəl\ adjective
pa·thet·i·cal·ly \-ti-k(ə-)lē\ adverb

Examples of PATHETIC

  1. The spectacle seen in the theater of the news presented the American President as a failed suppliant instead of a conquering hero—an ailing and pathetic figure dismissed with the smile of pity and the gift of some sweet candies shaped as miniature sculptures of the President's two dogs. —Lewis H. Lapham, Harper's, March 1992

Origin of PATHETIC

Middle French or Late Latin; Middle French pathetique, from Late Latin patheticus, from Greek pathētikos capable of feeling, pathetic, from paschein (aor. pathein) to experience, suffer — more at pathos
First Known Use: 1598

Synonym Discussion of PATHETIC

moving, impressive, poignant, affecting, touching, pathetic mean having the power to produce deep emotion. moving may apply to any strong emotional effect including thrilling, agitating, saddening, or calling forth pity or sympathy <a moving appeal for contributions>. impressive implies compelling attention, admiration, wonder, or conviction <an impressive list of achievements>. poignant applies to what keenly or sharply affects one's sensitivities <a poignant documentary on the homeless>. affecting is close to moving but most often suggests pathos <an affecting deathbed reunion>. touching implies arousing tenderness or compassion <the touching innocence in a child's eyes>. pathetic implies moving to pity or sometimes contempt <pathetic attempts to justify misconduct>.
PATHETIC Defined for Kids


adjective pa·thet·ic \pə-ˈthe-tik\

Definition of PATHETIC for Kids

:  causing feelings of pity, tenderness, or sorrow <“You talk about some pathetic, tortured-looking little faces.” — Christopher Paul Curtis, The Watsons>
pa·thet·ic·al·ly adverb


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