Definition of pathetic in English:



  • 1Arousing pity, especially through vulnerability or sadness.

    ‘she looked so pathetic that I bent down to comfort her’
    • ‘The figure, in its nakedness, has an almost ghostly, insubstantial quality, a pathetic vulnerability.’
    • ‘Most of them carried little bundles and they were a pathetic sight.’
    • ‘But your pathetic attempt to conceal your identity made me pity you.’
    • ‘Anyone who is sick, or poor, or generally pathetic would lack credibility as a prophet.’
    • ‘It upsets me that someone so engagingly pathetic can be so disruptive.’
    • ‘He watched as the shadowy silhouette of one of the pathetic creatures stumbled past.’
    • ‘"Sorry… " I replied lamely, beginning to look even more pathetic.’
    • ‘Hey, call me pathetic, but I was absolutely desperate for friends.’
    • ‘From the very beginning, toddlers are made to carry heavy burden of books and copies which really is a pathetic sight.’
    • ‘Standing, she looked down at the pathetic, toothless creature at her feet.’
    • ‘I'm sure this all sounds a bit pathetic to someone in your position.’
    • ‘It seemed somehow forlorn and pathetic as if it had been suddenly abandoned.’
    • ‘His heart skipped a beat with joy and he then wondered if it made him pathetic.’
    • ‘His Graham is a pathetic, vulnerable figure who inspires both pity and amusement.’
    • ‘Writing a story about an ex-boyfriend from several months ago seemed a bit pathetic.’
    • ‘You're a weak, pathetic fool, a voice said in my head.’
    • ‘A big red bus rolled past, around a curve, and out of sight as I waved in pathetic desperation.’
    • ‘I read the news in regards to your situation and find it pathetic.’
    • ‘She is good-hearted and took pity on my pathetic form whenever I was sent to the kitchens by my mistresses.’
    • ‘She sniffed sullenly, as if trying to emphasize her disdain, but only sounded rather pathetic.’
    pitiful, pitiable, piteous, to be pitied, moving, touching, poignant, plaintive, stirring
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    1. 1.1informal Miserably inadequate.
      ‘his test scores in Chemistry were pathetic’
      • ‘I gave it a go and this year I have had about 50 apricots on my pathetic excuse for a tree.’
      • ‘In practice, a vast amount of spiritualist messages seem pathetic in their banality and sentimentality.’
      • ‘Then we get this paltry, pathetic excuse for a bill, and we are all supposed to become excited about it.’
      • ‘I'm not even going to link to it as it was so pathetic.’
      • ‘I hope this doesn't come out as a pathetic excuse of why I haven't updated in a while.’
      • ‘After they had finished their pathetic excuse for a meal, they continued on their way.’
      • ‘That article was the most pathetic excuse for him to showcase his infantile vocabulary.’
      • ‘As I come into town, I pass the local mechanic's place, a pathetic excuse for a garage.’
      • ‘Jasmine gave out this little laugh that she thought sounded pretty pathetic.’
      • ‘Louis had a defeated look on his face and Henry was dancing around him in a pathetic excuse for a victory dance.’
      • ‘Every now and then, we in the gaming community are presented with a pathetic excuse for a video game, a console port.’
      • ‘Or if it does, it's a pretty pathetic excuse for a church.’
      • ‘I would like to know what pathetic excuses these so-called fans have for staying at home.’
      • ‘He covers his smile with a hand and examines her pathetic excuse for a tent.’
      • ‘By which I mean I will use the most pathetic excuses to avoid doing anything.’
      • ‘They hold the foreigners in contempt, calling them aliens and capering about in a pathetic attempt to feel superior.’
      • ‘However, Timothy found it to be pretty pathetic attempt at an insult.’
      • ‘Karl made some pathetic excuse about having to go to Croydon.’
      • ‘The man was a pathetic loser who couldn't even write a decent story.’
      • ‘But for now, I'm the pathetic loser, and you know what?’
  • 2archaic Relating to the emotions.

  • 3informal Miserably inadequate.

    ‘his test scores in Chemistry were pathetic’
    feeble, woeful, sorry, poor, pitiful, lamentable, deplorable, miserable, wretched, contemptible, despicable, inadequate, meagre, paltry, insufficient, negligible, insubstantial, unsatisfactory, worthless
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Late 16th century (in the sense ‘affecting the emotions’): via late Latin from Greek pathētikos ‘sensitive’, based on pathos ‘suffering’.