Share this entry

Share this page

pity

Syllabification: pit·y
Pronunciation: /ˈpidē
 
/

Definition of pity in English:

noun (plural pities)

1The feeling of sorrow and compassion caused by the suffering and misfortunes of others: her voice was full of pity
More example sentences
  • He had no pity, no compassion, no understanding of what the victims of war suffered.
  • Some said that to heal this rift in the Malay ground, some pity, or compassion, must be shown to Anwar.
  • A good number of her early poems attempt to work on the reader's sense of pity and compassion.
Synonyms
compassion, commiseration, condolence, sympathy, fellow feeling, understanding;
sorrow, regret, sadness
2 [in singular] A cause for regret or disappointment: what a pity we can’t be friends
More example sentences
  • In the end, it's a pity because the situation could have been handled a lot better and without the angst and tears.
  • It's such a pity, when perfectly reasonable tinned crab is available in the supermarkets!
  • This enforced secrecy is a pity, because Lalonde might have some useful advice to offer his cousin.
Synonyms
shame, sad thing, bad luck, misfortune
informal crime, bummer, sin

verb (pities, pitying, pitied)

[with object] Back to top  
Feel sorrow for the misfortunes of: Clare didn’t know whether to envy or pity them (as adjective pitying) he gave her a pitying look
More example sentences
  • They were pitied, but few shared empathy with their hopes and dreams.
  • She is pitying my cynical singledom, and I am worrying about her future.
  • Well, when you stop being frightened of someone and then you stop pitying them, there's not really a lot left.
Synonyms
feel sorry for, feel for, sympathize with, empathize with, commiserate with, take pity on, be moved by, grieve for

Origin

Middle English (also in the sense 'clemency, mildness'): from Old French pite 'compassion', from Latin pietas 'piety'; compare with piety.

More
  • Latin pius meant ‘pious’(Late Middle English) but had a wider range of meanings than the word does in modern English, to include a wide range of moral qualities from being dutiful to your parents to being loyal, affectionate, compassionate, and kind. The Latin noun was pietas, and this, via French, became both pity and piety (originally used in the same sense as ‘pity’), both Middle English. Pietas also developed a medieval Latin form pitantia, which meant ‘a charitable donation’ and the meagre daily dole of food given out to monks and also to paupers. From this comes Middle English pittance.

Phrases

for pity's sake

1
informal Used to express impatience or make an urgent appeal.
Example sentences
  • Look, will you just shut up about the band, for pity's sake?
  • I'm 36, for pity's sake, and I'm not a defenseless kid now.
  • I mean, for pity's sake, just read one, can't you?

more's the pity

2
informal Used to express regret about a fact that has just been stated.
Example sentences
  • Well, I'm not as sick as I was, and more's the pity.
  • You can't bring cameras into the dungeon, more's the pity.
  • Shafer and Gore apparently don't see it that way; more's the pity.

take (or have) pity

3
Show compassion: they took pity on him and gave him food
More example sentences
  • Perhaps you, too, may laugh at me, but you will relent and have pity on me.
  • Finally she took pity on me, and explained that she was Romanian.
  • I allowed him to stay at my home because I took pity on him.
Synonyms
feel sorry for, relent, be compassionate toward, be sympathetic toward, have mercy on, help (out), put someone out of their misery

Derivatives

pityingly

1
adverb
Example sentences
  • His father said pityingly, in an offhand manner, ‘I suppose you wanted to say that earlier.’
  • Tash looked pityingly at me and said, ‘Mel, in here we're the hipsters.’
  • I smile pityingly at those Johnnies-come-lately who claim they alone have the key to man's salvation.

Words that rhyme with pity

banditti, bitty, chitty, city, committee, ditty, gritty, intercity, kitty, megacity, nitty-gritty, Pitti, pretty, shitty, slitty, smriti, spitty, titty, vittae, witty

Share this entry

Share this page

 

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

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

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Word of the day cumbersome
Pronunciation: ˈkəmbərsəm
adjective
large or heavy and therefore difficult to carry…