Definition of pity in US English:



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

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

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

    ‘Clare didn't know whether to envy or pity them’
    • ‘Well, when you stop being frightened of someone and then you stop pitying them, there's not really a lot left.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Larry secretly pitied the girl on the receiving end of his boss's wrath.’
    • ‘Ahron almost pitied the poor man, remembering the pain the spell could do.’
    • ‘Whenever I pull them out of my bag, I can feel the amused and somewhat pitying stares of other golfers upon me.’
    • ‘They'd look with envy at the things and pity the man that owned them.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But anyone who pities herself for more than a month on end is a weak sister and likely to become a public nuisance besides.’
    • ‘They were pitied, but few shared empathy with their hopes and dreams.’
    • ‘And don't pity poor Gene because he didn't win.’
    • ‘Jubei found himself actually pitying the two poor young men.’
    • ‘I pity the fool who has to guess what people are going to buy.’
    • ‘I ought to be crucified, crucified on a cross, not pitied!’
    • ‘She is pitying my cynical singledom, and I am worrying about her future.’
    • ‘I pity the girls he's been going out with.’
    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
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  • for pity's sake

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

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

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

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

    • Show compassion.

      ‘they took pity on him and gave him food’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘After beginning the game, Robert took pity on me after I apparently made some moves that were questionable.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It seems the Crown Office took pity on one of them.’
      • ‘He took pity on me and we left the US with one heavily sedated dog.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Perhaps you, too, may laugh at me, but you will relent and have pity on me.’
      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
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Middle English (also in the sense ‘clemency, mildness’): from Old French pite ‘compassion’, from Latin pietas ‘piety’; compare with piety.