Alternative formsEdit


From Middle French pathétique, from Latin patheticus, from Ancient Greek παθητικός (pathētikós, subject to feeling, capable of feeling, impassioned), from παθητός (pathētós, one who has suffered, subject to suffering), from πάσχω (páskhō, to suffer).


  • IPA(key): /pəˈθɛtɪk/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛtɪk


pathetic (comparative more pathetic, superlative most pathetic)

  1. Arousing pity, sympathy, or compassion; exciting pathos.
    The child’s pathetic pleas for forgiveness stirred the young man’s heart.
    • 1883: George Reynolds, "History of the Book of Mormon: Contents of the Records, II," Contributor
      We have now arrived at one of the most pathetic and glorious events in the history of Israel, one which sanctifies the Lamanite race with the powers of martyrdom, and, by the blood of the victims, washes its garments white from many a former sin.
    • 1887, H. Rider Haggard, She: A History of Adventure[1]:
      She held his hand in one of hers, but she too was dozing, and the two made a pretty, or rather a pathetic, picture.
  2. Arousing scorn or contempt, often due to miserable inadequacy.
    You can't even run two miles? That’s pathetic.
    You're almost 26 years old and you still can't hold a real job? That's pathetic.
    • 2005, In Her Shoes:
      Well you'd better think of something because middle-aged tramps aren't cute, they're pathetic.
    • 2014, Tim Carvell; Josh Gondelman; Dan Gurewitch; Jeff Maurer; Ben Silva; Will Tracy; Jill Twiss; Seena Vali; Julie Weiner, “State Legislatures and ALEC”, in Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, season 1, episode 23, HBO, Warner Bros. Television:
      Look, I-I hate to sound like Billy Baldwin’s agent, but you can’t just copy everything that ALEC does! It’s pathetic!”
  3. (obsolete) Expressing or showing anger; passionate.
  4. (anatomy) Trochlear.


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Related termsEdit


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