Definition of sympathetic in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /sɪmpəˈθɛtɪk/


1Feeling, showing, or expressing sympathy: she was sympathetic towards staff with family problems he spoke in a sympathetic tone
More example sentences
  • Both of the controllers were understanding and sympathetic toward me, perhaps more than I deserved.
  • ‘Don't worry dear ’, she told me in sympathetic tones, ‘Everything will be fine’.
  • Dave offered a hug along with his sympathetic tone, but Lori didn't feel the comfort in the embrace.
commiserating, commiserative, pitying, condoling, consoling, comforting, supportive, encouraging;
compassionate, caring, concerned, solicitous, empathetic;
considerate, kindly, kind, kind-hearted, soft-hearted, tender-hearted, warm, warm-hearted;
understanding, sensitive
2Showing approval of or favour towards an idea or action: he was sympathetic to evolutionary ideas
More example sentences
  • This patronising attitude only serves to alienate potential members who might otherwise be sympathetic to socialist ideas.
  • At least one newspaper has editorialised in favour of political union and others are sympathetic to the proposal.
  • Let's hope that Bradford MP Gerry Sutcliffe, whose ministerial responsibilities now include fireworks, is sympathetic to that view.
in favour of, in sympathy with, approving of, pro, on the side of, supportive of, supporting of, favourable, encouraging of;
well disposed to, favourably disposed to, receptive to, responsive to
3(Of a person) attracting the liking of others: Hubbell is a more sympathetic character
More example sentences
  • Harvey kept Hilarion as a sympathetic character, ruggedly attractive and devoted.
  • Like Tony Maudsley's character, Martin, Christine is very sympathetic, and her sweet nature sets her apart from Ray Temple's bullying and caustic ways.
  • In Cath, Jennings succeeds in quickly establishing an extremely likeable, sympathetic character.
likeable, pleasant, agreeable, congenial, friendly, genial, companionable, easy to get along with;
Italian & Spanish simpatico
3.1(Of a structure) designed in a sensitive or appropriate way: buildings that were sympathetic to their surroundings
More example sentences
  • So the goal was to design a roof structure sympathetic to these life-forming principles.
  • The home had been plagued by numerous remodels, ‘none of which were sympathetic to the original design,’ he explains.
  • The homes will also be sympathetic to existing designs in Broome Manor Lane in that they will be two storey.
4Relating to or denoting the part of the autonomic nervous system consisting of nerves arising from ganglia near the middle part of the spinal cord, supplying the internal organs, blood vessels, and glands, and balancing the action of the parasympathetic nerves.
Example sentences
  • The outer layer of blood vessels contains nerves of the sympathetic component of the autonomic nervous system, the activity of which is controlled by the brain.
  • The autonomic nervous system consists of two opposing systems, the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous systems.
  • The changes finally become so extensive that almost every tissue, except the skin, the central nervous system and the sympathetic ganglions, is affected.
5Relating to, producing, or denoting an effect which arises in response to a similar action elsewhere.
Example sentences
  • The converse of a sympathetic reaction is a para-sympathetic reaction, which triggers counter-reactions.


Mid 17th century (in the sense 'relating to an affinity or paranormal influence', as in sympathetic magic): from sympathy, on the pattern of pathetic.

Words that rhyme with sympathetic

aesthetic (US esthetic), alphabetic, anaesthetic (US anesthetic), antithetic, apathetic, apologetic, arithmetic, ascetic, athletic, balletic, bathetic, cosmetic, cybernetic, diabetic, dietetic, diuretic, electromagnetic, emetic, energetic, exegetic, frenetic, genetic, Helvetic, hermetic, homiletic, kinetic, magnetic, metic, mimetic, parenthetic, pathetic, peripatetic, phonetic, photosynthetic, poetic, prophetic, prothetic, psychokinetic, splenetic, syncretic, syndetic, synthetic, telekinetic, theoretic, zetetic

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: sym¦pa|thet¦ic

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.