Definition of pity in US English:

pity

noun

  • 1The feeling of sorrow and compassion caused by the suffering and misfortunes of others.

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

    ‘what a pity we can't be friends’
    • ‘It's such a pity, when perfectly reasonable tinned crab is available in the supermarkets!’
    • ‘That is a pity in the case of smart policies, but a blessing for the less smarter ideas.’
    • ‘This is a pity, because in many cases there is more going on than meets the eye.’
    • ‘It would be a pity, nevertheless, if Sean Connery missed his chance to straighten out the record.’
    • ‘This is a great pity because if he had, we might have been spared the regrettable sight that assailed us earlier in the week.’
    • ‘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 to pretend that there are no regrets and that ending a marriage hardly matters.’
    • ‘There were two performances taking place here: the pity was that they rarely coincided.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘What a real pity - I was looking forward to meeting him.’
    • ‘In the end, it's a pity because the situation could have been handled a lot better and without the angst and tears.’
    • ‘This enforced secrecy is a pity, because Lalonde might have some useful advice to offer his cousin.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The authorities probably knew that there was a likelihood of taking relics and it is a pity that it disappeared.’
    • ‘"It would be an awful pity if there were objections.’
    • ‘It would be a great pity if this opportunity to restore confidence in the way support is delivered to rural areas is missed.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A real pity, as this could have been a tasty little number.’
    • ‘It would be a pity if they were to throw away the opportunity at this stage.’
    shame, crying shame, cause for disappointment, cause for regret, source of regret, sad thing, unfortunate thing, bad luck, misfortune
    View synonyms

verb

[with object]
  • Feel sorrow for the misfortunes of.

    ‘he gave her a pitying look’
    ‘Clare didn't know whether to envy or pity them’
    • ‘But pity the poor soul who would try to do anything to those kids.’
    • ‘Ahron almost pitied the poor man, remembering the pain the spell could do.’
    • ‘Pity poor Dillon Phillips, the prime minister's 12-year-old lad.’
    • ‘I pity the fool who has to guess what people are going to buy.’
    • ‘And don't pity poor Gene because he didn't win.’
    • ‘She is pitying my cynical singledom, and I am worrying about her future.’
    • ‘They'd look with envy at the things and pity the man that owned them.’
    • ‘I pity the girls he's been going out with.’
    • ‘Larry secretly pitied the girl on the receiving end of his boss's wrath.’
    • ‘Well, when you stop being frightened of someone and then you stop pitying them, there's not really a lot left.’
    • ‘They were pitied, but few shared empathy with their hopes and dreams.’
    • ‘But anyone who pities herself for more than a month on end is a weak sister and likely to become a public nuisance besides.’
    • ‘Refugees need help, and I do pity their plight, however problems should not be exported.’
    • ‘She watched him struggle to answer, almost pitying at the poor frightened creature.’
    • ‘Jubei found himself actually pitying the two poor young men.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Still, we have to have some sense of his perspective in order to actually pity him.’
    • ‘Her smile was slightly sad and regretful, almost pitying as she continued speaking.’
    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

Phrases

  • for pity's sake

    • informal Used to express impatience or make an urgent appeal.

      • ‘No, I do not want my books arranged in descending order of height, for pity's sake!’
      • ‘I'm 36, for pity's sake, and I'm not a defenseless kid now.’
      • ‘I'm British, I'm in London and I'm on the tube, for pity's sake.’
      • ‘Look, will you just shut up about the band, for pity's sake?’
      • ‘And for pity's sake, do not tell me this state of affairs is unprecedented in history.’
      • ‘Make a battery out of them and harness electricity for pity's sake!’
      • ‘It's slightly sad - this is a World Heritage Site, for pity's sake.’
      • ‘I mean, for pity's sake, just read one, can't you?’
      • ‘I had to sit through an hour of it, for pity's sake.’
      • ‘‘No,’ he seemed exasperated, ‘just let me in for pity's sake.’’
  • more's the pity

    • informal Used to express regret about a fact that has just been stated.

      • ‘Magistrates wouldn't allow it, of course, more's the pity.’
      • ‘The end is near, and more's the pity, because it's been a good trip.’
      • ‘As he said, all that has changed and more's the pity.’
      • ‘But that is not how the company works, more's the pity.’
      • ‘Shafer and Gore apparently don't see it that way; more's the pity.’
      • ‘Carnivals are like that, transitory things - more's the pity.’
      • ‘You can't bring cameras into the dungeon, more's the pity.’
      • ‘Now, this is not going to make the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops go away, more's the pity.’
      • ‘Well, I'm not as sick as I was, and more's the pity.’
      • ‘But you can't control how another person thinks, more's the pity.’
  • take (or have) pity

    • Show compassion.

      ‘they took pity on him and gave him food’
      • ‘After beginning the game, Robert took pity on me after I apparently made some moves that were questionable.’
      • ‘Finally she took pity on me, and explained that she was Romanian.’
      • ‘The staff of a mission school took pity on him and educated him - an intervention that changed his life radically.’
      • ‘Another exile took pity on them and gave them shelter for a while.’
      • ‘He took pity on me and we left the US with one heavily sedated dog.’
      • ‘It seems the Crown Office took pity on one of them.’
      • ‘Perhaps you, too, may laugh at me, but you will relent and have pity on me.’
      • ‘One nurse took pity on me and procured a gym mat and a sheet, which I placed on the floor next to my mother's bed.’
      • ‘But Mrs Cowling said she took pity on him and gave him cash.’
      • ‘I allowed him to stay at my home because I took pity on him.’
      feel sorry for, relent, show sympathy for, show compassion towards, be compassionate towards, be charitable towards, be sympathetic towards, have mercy on, show mercy to, help, help out, put someone out of their misery
      View synonyms

Origin

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

Pronunciation

pity

/ˈpɪdi//ˈpidē/