Empathy and sympathy



empathy, a noun.

the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.


early 20th cent.: from Greek empatheia

(from em- ‘in’ + pathos ‘feeling’ ) translating German Einfühlung.



sympathy, a noun.

1) feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else's misfortune:

they had great sympathy for the flood victims.

• ( one's sympathies) formal expression of such feelings; condolences

2) understanding between people; common feeling:

A special sympathy between the two boys was obvious to all.

• ( sympathies) support in the form of shared feelings or opinions.
• agreement with or approval of an opinion or aim; a favorable attitude.
• ( in sympathy) relating harmoniously to something else; in keeping.
• the state or fact of responding in a way similar or corresponding to an action elsewhere.


late 16th cent.: via Latin from Greek sumpatheia, from sumpathes, from sun- ‘with’ + pathos ‘feeling.’

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