Definition of pitiful in US English:



  • 1Deserving or arousing pity.

    • ‘These two wounded souls conduct a strange, exhilarating, pitiful love affair, with a tragic outcome.’
    • ‘He knew what he was doing was pitiful, pathetic, desperate.’
    • ‘Annabelle felt sorry for the pitiful sight a death had caused a girl who used to be attractive and envied.’
    • ‘He looked really pitiful that I felt sorry for him and I agreed.’
    • ‘The answer was so pathetic and pitiful that there was no way I could reveal it.’
    • ‘It implied, moreover, that the strikers were pitiful wretches whose problems should be addressed through social uplift or charity.’
    • ‘She comes across as a pitiful figure, a very sad and very tragic figure.’
    • ‘Shane was truly a pitiful, pathetic human being, and Tal would not waste his time on him, not anymore.’
    • ‘It was pitiful… I almost felt sorry for him, until I heard Girl call him ‘Mister President,’ and then I felt ashamed.’
    • ‘They seemed to stretch out their bony, senile fingers to grab her whilst the pitiful willow wept in sorrow at her distress.’
    • ‘These are not satanic monsters, but tragic, pitiful figures.’
    • ‘It makes us look pitiful and pity is not something that we want, we want respect.’
    • ‘I was trying to look as pitiful and pathetic as I could.’
    • ‘Goldberg's descent into pathetic lack of humanity has been a pitiful thing to watch.’
    • ‘I was summoned by pitiful cat wails to find a moving ‘lump’ rummaging around in a vain attempt at escape.’
    • ‘I couldn't face the DVD extras, I could only lament the loss of an hour-and-a-half of my already pitiful life.’
    • ‘He asked, ‘Why do you sacrifice yourself for these pitiful, pathetic creatures?’’
    • ‘It's pitiful, yet she doesn't want to be pitied, so what do I do?’
    • ‘He presented such a pathetically pitiful creature, I wanted to kill him.’
    • ‘If you'd prefer to die with the wretched mortals of this pitiful world, then you are not fit to walk with darkness.’
    distressing, sad, piteous, to be pitied, pitiable, pathetic, disturbing, heart-rending, heartbreaking, saddening, moving, affecting, touching, tear-jerking, plaintive, poignant, forlorn, poor, sorry, wretched, abject, miserable, tragic, woeful, lamentable, grievous
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    1. 1.1 Very small or poor; inadequate.
      • ‘Pathetic deaths and pitiful rhymes also characterized much of the poetry written about newsboys during this period.’
      • ‘The journey only made him seem pitiful and insignificant in the general scheme of things.’
      • ‘I shook my head despairingly, thinking about my own pitiful form of transport and felt deep pity for my feet slaves.’
      • ‘I recall Birmingham City Councils pitiful attempt to rebrand the Christmas period winterval.’
      • ‘Instead of graceful movement through the water, when it tries to swim the impression it gives is of a pitiful thrashing about.’
      • ‘Poor Karl, who wears a pitiful wig and returns Lizzie's kindness by trying to protect her from daddy, endures endless humiliations.’
      • ‘But Taylor's barrack-room bleating in defence of poor Rio has been nothing short of pitiful.’
      • ‘Bonjean's attempt at damage control is so sorry and pitiful that it's almost like watching a car wreck.’
      • ‘After all, what sensible man would want to get into a relationship that led to marriage with such a poor, pitiful piece of filth?’
      • ‘It has a few pitiful wretches for clubs, places which would, in Manchester, have been put out of their misery long ago.’
      • ‘In a pitiful attempt to recover from the picture-posting fiasco I shall share some interesting information with you.’
      • ‘Who in this house would be able to heat their homes for a pitiful and measly 9 a week? she asked.’
      • ‘Research is pitiful, as are the attempts to provide references and a detailed bibliography of sources.’
      • ‘Emily makes a pitiful attempt to pull her down the steps every morning and some evenings.’
      • ‘In a pitiful and pathetic attempt to get his party re-elected, he has disgraced your wonderful country.’
      • ‘The owner of the pitiful castle, a small, insignificant knight was very welcoming.’
      • ‘Along the way, you've got lots of pitiful attempts at push-back spin from administration officials who won't give their name.’
      • ‘His pitiful attempt at explaining failed miserably, although he was too ignorant to notice it.’
      • ‘I'm sorry, your pitiful arguments just do not hold up in the face of facts like this.’
      • ‘Minerva's pitiful attempts at music making leave her envious of those with perfect pitch.’
      paltry, miserable, meagre, beggarly, insufficient, insignificant, trifling, negligible, pitiable, derisory
      dreadful, awful, terrible, lamentable, hopeless, wretched, sorry, poor, bad, feeble, well below par, pitiable, woeful, inadequate, contemptible, deplorable, despicable, laughable, worthless
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    2. 1.2archaic Compassionate.