Definition of sympathy in English:

sympathy

noun

mass noun
  • 1Feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else's misfortune.

    ‘they had great sympathy for the flood victims’
    • ‘Murillo is well known for his sympathy with his neighbours, the poor and distressed of Seville.’
    • ‘A large number of teenagers visited the family to offer their sympathy with over seventeen signing a card.’
    • ‘I have considerable sympathy with Mr S on this aspect of the case.’
    • ‘Well, as it happens, I have some sympathy with people who get caught with massive software development schemes that go wrong.’
    • ‘The killings sparked a global wave of sympathy with most of the money distributed to those directly affected by the tragedy.’
    • ‘One can't help feeling sympathy with his plight, and admiration for the way he meets his end.’
    • ‘I have sympathy with anyone who has suffered a burglary, but I fail to see how any of these alarms have much deterrent effect.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, Khouri appears to have little sympathy with those she fooled into believing her tales.’
    • ‘Our sympathy with soap characters is based on identification.’
    • ‘She had already sent two letters to staff and residents of the home expressing sympathy with the 14 elderly residents.’
    • ‘His family expressed sympathy with John's carer, who they said made ‘a minor mistake’.’
    • ‘I have absolute sympathy with the friends and families of anyone that's suffered in anything like this.’
    • ‘Reasonable walkers have sympathy with the plight of many farmers and have avoided walking on agricultural land.’
    • ‘Much of the play hinges on her credibility when disguised as Cesario, and on the audience's sympathy with her.’
    • ‘Flowers are an international symbol of our sorrow, sympathy, grief, and grace.’
    • ‘The committee expressed sympathy with all the families who suffered bereavements during the year.’
    • ‘The scene won no plaudits for the students, nor can it have done their case to create public sympathy with their cause any good.’
    • ‘Of course there can be nothing wrong with people wanting to show sympathy with the victims of terrorism.’
    • ‘From this side of the water, one can have some sympathy with that frustration.’
    • ‘Let me please say before I'm howled down in protest I do have every sympathy with the families and loved ones that grieve for them.’
    commiseration, pity, condolence, consolation, comfort, solace, support, encouragement
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1one's sympathies The formal expression of pity or sorrow for someone else's misfortune.
      ‘all Tony's friends joined in sending their sympathies to his widow Jean’
      • ‘Johnathan seems to have been a really good boy, into everything, and our deepest sympathies are with his family who are finding this very hard.’
      • ‘Our condolences and sympathies go to the families of the Hon John Falloon and Jack Luxton.’
      • ‘Mr Blair extended his sympathies to the families of those who had died in the two huge suicide bombings, many of whom are likely to be British.’
      • ‘Our sympathies are with the injured and the relatives of the deceased.’
      • ‘The Minister met with the bereaved families and conveyed his sympathies to them.’
      • ‘Mr McDarby is anxious to send sympathies to the families of the bereaved.’
      • ‘Through you, First Minister, I wish to convey my heartfelt sympathies to families and friends of all those killed and injured.’
      • ‘I send my sympathies to the two families involved, it's a shocking tragedy.’
      • ‘His loss leaves a void in the community which will be difficult to replace and we tender our deepest sympathies to the bereaved.’
      • ‘My buddies expressed their sympathies, then started checking their own mirrors for warning signs.’
      • ‘Our sympathies are extended to his family and the Tyrone GAA fraternity.’
      • ‘He spoke with Spain's Foreign Minister Ana de Palacio to convey the sympathies of everyone in Ireland.’
      • ‘My sympathies go to the patients involved in this case.’
      • ‘We extend our sympathies to her family and relatives and friends.’
      • ‘To all his extended family, relatives, neighbours and friends, we extend our most sincere sympathies.’
      • ‘In this case, one's sympathies go out to the performers who have a living to earn.’
      • ‘The Ministers conveyed their sympathies with the bereaved families and prayed for early recovery of injured.’
      • ‘We extend our deepest sympathies to all those who mourn her passing.’
      • ‘My sympathies are ever and always with the parents, in the full knowledge of how wrongheaded parents can be.’
      • ‘Our sympathies and condolences go to the victims of this incident and the people of London.’
  • 2Understanding between people; common feeling.

    ‘the special sympathy between the two boys was obvious to all’
    • ‘Perhaps she has, in general, more sympathy with men than women?’
    • ‘She reacted with sympathy and understanding, and Alex felt good about opening up to her.’
    • ‘Warmth, sympathy and understanding should cost nothing in any country.’
    • ‘To receive, you must give, and not just in words and gestures but in true sympathy, understanding and commitment.’
    • ‘He feels that he is receiving less than his share and that there is no one on whom he can rely for sympathy and understanding.’
    • ‘Many are thankful for just that - human contact, acknowledgement, sympathy or whatever you can give.’
    • ‘Her sympathy and understanding were great assets to the practice.’
    • ‘He listens politely and patiently to Dabii's request, with a smile of sympathy and understanding.’
    • ‘They require not just constant attention and sympathy, but also understanding of their needs and thoughts.’
    • ‘Understanding begins with sympathy - recognition of the shared human condition.’
    • ‘I was given a chance to go through some of the gawkiest stages of growing up in an atmosphere of sympathy and understanding.’
    rapport, fellow feeling, affinity, empathy, harmony, accord, compatibility
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1sympathies Support in the form of shared feelings or opinions.
      ‘his sympathies lay with his constituents’
      • ‘The only possible reason is anti-Semitism or Neo-Nazi sympathies.’
      • ‘For a man with nationalist sympathies, he clearly shed few tears for the Prime Minister's plight.’
      • ‘I liked him because he wrote well and because his contrarian position gave him broader sympathies.’
      • ‘It was a hard time because as the son of a miner you have sympathies for both sides.’
      • ‘In both, secessionist sympathies are much wider than support for terrorism and have a much longer history.’
      • ‘He also supports Glasgow Rangers, while he's also got Chelsea sympathies.’
      • ‘A Glasgow woman with wavering sympathies rejected the line ‘Scotland deserves better’.’
      • ‘The Duke of Windsor - for years held up as a romantic figure who abdicated for love - shared those sympathies.’
      • ‘It quickly gained the support of the majority of people with nationalist sympathies.’
      • ‘The truth is elusive and complex and Medem makes a concerted attempt to grasp it, while making plain his broad sympathies with the Basques.’
      • ‘Even then, the book's sympathies are more with his foot-soldiers.’
      • ‘Forget where one's sympathies lie and ignore the truth or otherwise of a republican spy-ring at Stormont.’
      • ‘Despite his old Labour sympathies, Stewart has been a consistent supporter of Blair.’
      • ‘Still, one might assume that there would be little if any doubt as to where feminist sympathies would lie.’
      • ‘In this PC society we live in, it seems to me to be a Tabloid kind of a world where sensationalism and fashionable sympathies rule OK.’
      • ‘In any account of a siege, one's sympathies inevitably lie with the besieged.’
      • ‘Though he wrote on the rulers, his sympathies lay with the people.’
      • ‘The plans also had the support of the Green Party, hardly known for their sympathies towards developers.’
      • ‘Lash's political sympathies lie with the Agrarian Populists of 19th century America.’
      • ‘The people made no secret of their Royalist sympathies, and he decided to leave a town ‘where he has few friends’.’
      agreement, harmony, favour, approval, approbation, support, encouragement, goodwill, commendation, partiality
      View synonyms
    2. 2.2 Agreement with or approval of an opinion or aim; a favourable attitude.
      ‘I have some sympathy for this view’
      • ‘I have more sympathy with concerns about the ability of the infrastructure to support the new residents.’
      • ‘While I have sympathy with this argument it is noticeable that no one is arguing to use the existing powers to their greatest effect.’
      • ‘We have considerable sympathy with the view the judge took.’
      • ‘I am forced to conclude that their silence implies agreement, sympathy, or collusion.’
      • ‘The tone is balanced, despite the author's sympathy for the causes of the disenfranchised.’
      • ‘I don't know what good it will do to stop the traffic on the M1 next Monday, but it may lose us a lot of sympathy with the public.’
      • ‘If the comments did reflect any sympathy on his part for terrorism then clearly they were misdirected.’
      • ‘However, such a claim is unlikely to attract judicial sympathy for two reasons.’
      • ‘The landed gentry had some sympathy with popular resentment of the activities of moneyed and mercantile entrepreneurs.’
      • ‘We are therefore obliged to look upon the arguments for affirmative action with sympathy and an open mind.’
      • ‘Now when pensioners take to the streets, the press is full of sympathy and understanding.’
      • ‘And many lower officers and constabulary had full sympathy with the marauding mobs.’
      • ‘An opinion poll last week showed there is widespread sympathy for the strikes.’
      • ‘Becoming America suggests that Butler has little sympathy with that hermeneutic view.’
      • ‘Whilst I have every sympathy with his concerns, we have to present our pupils at test centres of their choice.’
      • ‘They were desperately trying to generate support and sympathy among people who hadn't formed an opinion on foxhunting.’
      • ‘Keegan deserves a moment of sympathy for his honest comments, but not much more than a moment.’
      • ‘I have great sympathy with the many letters complaining about packaging of goods.’
      • ‘Crawford has some sympathy with this view and has taken steps to ensure customer service is paramount in branch staff's minds.’
      • ‘This group had ideological sympathy with commando operations against the Israelis.’
    3. 2.3in sympathy Relating harmoniously to something else; in keeping.
      ‘repairs had to be in sympathy with the original structure’
      • ‘This season, he gave us an almost faultless collection that was totally in sympathy with how many women wish to dress.’
      • ‘I long to live in a culture with which I feel in harmony and in sympathy.’
      • ‘GMO products should exist in sympathy with the world's food chain.’
      • ‘It demands the development is in sympathy with the area.’
      • ‘However planning officers at the national park are keen for the site to be cleared and redeveloped in sympathy with the surrounding landscape.’
      • ‘We shall be building in sympathy with neighbouring settlements.’
      • ‘The proposed chalets are not in sympathy with any of the local buildings.’
      • ‘In sympathy with its subject matter, the work has a veiled, half awake quality.’
      • ‘They altered parts of the house, but retained the basic style which was built in sympathy with the environment.’
      • ‘To begin with, it must be a quality scheme, with any new buildings being in sympathy with the area and with the Cathedral Close's distinct character.’
      • ‘Since it stays outside throughout the summer a seating group should look sculptural and as with all else, be in sympathy with the style of the house and garden.’
      • ‘The judges felt the library building had a definite wow factor and that the architecture is in sympathy with the existing physical environment.’
      • ‘The old style decorative lamps are in sympathy with the narrow street and its small retail outlets.’
      • ‘However, as with all development, it must be done in sympathy with what exists there already.’
      • ‘Who wanted the weather to be in sympathy with their moods?’
  • 3The state or fact of responding in a way similar or corresponding to an action elsewhere.

    ‘the magnetic field oscillates in sympathy’
    • ‘The inner ear has small hairs rooted in fluid and when tympanic responses from sound goes through three small bones the hairs vibrate, or oscillate in sympathy.’
    • ‘And foreign creditors are getting a double whammy, as bond prices have begun to fall in sympathy with the dollar.’
    • ‘Very few bells to be found on these rare instruments even if there are many strings vibrating in sympathy.’

Usage

On the difference between sympathy and empathy, see empathy

Origin

Late 16th century (in sympathy (sense 3)): via Latin from Greek sumpatheia, from sumpathēs, from sun- ‘with’ + pathos ‘feeling’.

Pronunciation

sympathy

/ˈsɪmpəθi/