Definition of pity in English:



  • 1[mass noun] The feeling of sorrow and compassion caused by the sufferings and misfortunes of others.

    ‘her voice was full of pity’
    • ‘I shook my head in mock pity as Chela attempted to comfort Micheal.’
    • ‘While we offer thanks to all, we would respectfully ask for no one to feel pity or sorrow for our loss.’
    • ‘Feeling pity for the little boy she shoved a few coins into his hand.’
    • ‘I almost felt pity for the man - almost.’
    • ‘A good number of her early poems attempt to work on the reader's sense of pity and compassion.’
    • ‘In these circumstances, we should look with pity and compassion on George Best.’
    • ‘He watched her reaction but he didn't see fear or anger, only pity and sorrow.’
    • ‘For the children who danced at the will of adults, he had expressed sorrow and pity.’
    • ‘With the luck they've had, this bunch deserves some pity.’
    • ‘You're feeling pity for a creature that would sneer at the concept if she understood it.’
    • ‘I knew he didn't want my pity, but he had it nonetheless.’
    • ‘He had no pity, no compassion, no understanding of what the victims of war suffered.’
    • ‘"Poor Silas, you conformed, " David said with mock pity.’
    • ‘Some said that to heal this rift in the Malay ground, some pity, or compassion, must be shown to Anwar.’
    • ‘They have no idea of their future here and I feel great pity for their innocence.’
    • ‘He didn't want her pity; he hated it when people pitied him.’
    • ‘She didn't deserve pity and Rod wanted a bit of fun.’
    • ‘Such paintings court the viewer's curiosity, but make no appeal to feelings of pity, fear, or outrage.’
    • ‘He looked down at his shoes, feeling pity for the poor girl.’
    • ‘I spoke with pity in my voice, but tried to keep it refined.’
    compassion, commiseration, condolence, sorrow, regret, sadness, distress, sympathy, fellow feeling, understanding, feeling, emotion
    View synonyms
  • 2[in singular] A cause for regret or disappointment.

    ‘it's a pity you didn't contact us first’
    ‘what a pity we can't be friends’
    • ‘We have a great chance to beat Westmeath and it would be a pity if there were only a small crowd from Carlow to see it.’
    • ‘In which case it would be a pity just to wrap the Lion in brown paper and send it off to Sydney.’
    • ‘It would be a pity, nevertheless, if Sean Connery missed his chance to straighten out the record.’
    • ‘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 is a pity, because in many cases there is more going on than meets the eye.’
    • ‘That is a pity in the case of smart policies, but a blessing for the less smarter ideas.’
    • ‘It would be a pity to pretend that there are no regrets and that ending a marriage hardly matters.’
    • ‘It would be a great pity if this opportunity to restore confidence in the way support is delivered to rural areas is missed.’
    • ‘This is a great pity because if he had, we might have been spared the regrettable sight that assailed us earlier in the week.’
    • ‘A real pity, as this could have been a tasty little number.’
    • ‘"It would be an awful pity if there were objections.’
    • ‘Form fatally undermines content - a real pity in a novel of real promise.’
    • ‘Isn't it an awful pity Mick O Dwyer wasn't born in Sligo.’
    • ‘This enforced secrecy is a pity, because Lalonde might have some useful advice to offer his cousin.’
    • ‘It would be a pity if they were to throw away the opportunity at this stage.’
    • ‘And as in at least some other cases, this will be a pity because there will likely be some small nugget of usefulness to the deal.’
    • ‘There were two performances taking place here: the pity was that they rarely coincided.’
    • ‘The authorities probably knew that there was a likelihood of taking relics and it is a pity that it disappeared.’
    • ‘What a real pity - I was looking forward to meeting him.’
    shame, crying shame, cause for disappointment, cause for regret, source of regret, sad thing, unfortunate thing, bad luck, misfortune
    View synonyms


  • Feel sorrow for the misfortunes of.

    ‘I could see from their faces that they pitied me’
    ‘he gave her a pitying look’
    • ‘They were pitied, but few shared empathy with their hopes and dreams.’
    • ‘Her smile was slightly sad and regretful, almost pitying as she continued speaking.’
    • ‘Ahron almost pitied the poor man, remembering the pain the spell could do.’
    • ‘They'd look with envy at the things and pity the man that owned them.’
    • ‘She watched him struggle to answer, almost pitying at the poor frightened creature.’
    • ‘Refugees need help, and I do pity their plight, however problems should not be exported.’
    • ‘She is pitying my cynical singledom, and I am worrying about her future.’
    • ‘Larry secretly pitied the girl on the receiving end of his boss's wrath.’
    • ‘Still, we have to have some sense of his perspective in order to actually pity him.’
    • ‘I pity the fool who has to guess what people are going to buy.’
    • ‘But anyone who pities herself for more than a month on end is a weak sister and likely to become a public nuisance besides.’
    • ‘Jubei found himself actually pitying the two poor young men.’
    • ‘I pity the girls he's been going out with.’
    • ‘Pity poor Dillon Phillips, the prime minister's 12-year-old lad.’
    • ‘But pity the poor soul who would try to do anything to those kids.’
    • ‘Well, when you stop being frightened of someone and then you stop pitying them, there's not really a lot left.’
    • ‘And don't pity poor Gene because he didn't win.’
    • ‘I ought to be crucified, crucified on a cross, not pitied!’
    • ‘Whenever I pull them out of my bag, I can feel the amused and somewhat pitying stares of other golfers upon me.’
    feel sorry for, feel pity for, feel for, feel sympathy for, sympathize with, be sympathetic towards, empathize with, commiserate with, have compassion for, be compassionate towards, take pity on, be moved by, bleed for, have one's heart go out to, condole with, weep for, grieve for
    View synonyms


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