- 1Arousing pity, especially through vulnerability or sadness: she looked so pathetic that I bent down to comfort herMore example sentences
pitiful, pitiable, piteous, to be pitied, moving, touching, poignant, plaintive, stirring; affecting, distressing, disquieting, disturbing, upsetting, miserable, heartbreaking, heart-rending, agonizing, harrowing, mortifying, sad, wretched, poor, forlorn, tragic, doleful, mournful, woeful• rare distressful
- She is good-hearted and took pity on my pathetic form whenever I was sent to the kitchens by my mistresses.
- His Graham is a pathetic, vulnerable figure who inspires both pity and amusement.
- The figure, in its nakedness, has an almost ghostly, insubstantial quality, a pathetic vulnerability.
- 2 • informal Miserably inadequate: he’s a pathetic excuse for a manMore example sentences
- Then we get this paltry, pathetic excuse for a bill, and we are all supposed to become excited about it.
- Karl made some pathetic excuse about having to go to Croydon.
- That article was the most pathetic excuse for him to showcase his infantile vocabulary.
- More example sentences
- It's not lost in the music, it stands out pathetically small and off-key.
- Nowhere is this more pathetically obvious than in the party slogans.
- I whimpered pathetically, then bit my lip and let the lorry go.
late 16th century (in the sense 'affecting the emotions'): via late Latin from Greek pathētikos 'sensitive', based on pathos 'suffering'.