Definition of sympathy in English:



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

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

    ‘the special sympathy between the two boys was obvious to all’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He listens politely and patiently to Dabii's request, with a smile of sympathy and understanding.’
    • ‘She reacted with sympathy and understanding, and Alex felt good about opening up to her.’
    • ‘Perhaps she has, in general, more sympathy with men than women?’
    • ‘Warmth, sympathy and understanding should cost nothing in any country.’
    • ‘They require not just constant attention and sympathy, but also understanding of their needs and thoughts.’
    • ‘Many are thankful for just that - human contact, acknowledgement, sympathy or whatever you can give.’
    • ‘To receive, you must give, and not just in words and gestures but in true sympathy, understanding and commitment.’
    • ‘I was given a chance to go through some of the gawkiest stages of growing up in an atmosphere of sympathy and understanding.’
    • ‘Understanding begins with sympathy - recognition of the shared human condition.’
    • ‘Her sympathy and understanding were great assets to the practice.’
    rapport, fellow feeling, affinity, empathy, harmony, accord, compatibility
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    1. 2.1Support in the form of shared feelings or opinions.
      ‘his sympathies lay with his constituents’
      • ‘It quickly gained the support of the majority of people with nationalist sympathies.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Forget where one's sympathies lie and ignore the truth or otherwise of a republican spy-ring at Stormont.’
      • ‘Lash's political sympathies lie with the Agrarian Populists of 19th century America.’
      • ‘The Duke of Windsor - for years held up as a romantic figure who abdicated for love - shared those sympathies.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘For a man with nationalist sympathies, he clearly shed few tears for the Prime Minister's plight.’
      • ‘A Glasgow woman with wavering sympathies rejected the line ‘Scotland deserves better’.’
      • ‘The people made no secret of their Royalist sympathies, and he decided to leave a town ‘where he has few friends’.’
      • ‘In any account of a siege, one's sympathies inevitably lie with the besieged.’
      • ‘The only possible reason is anti-Semitism or Neo-Nazi sympathies.’
      • ‘In both, secessionist sympathies are much wider than support for terrorism and have a much longer history.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The plans also had the support of the Green Party, hardly known for their sympathies towards developers.’
      • ‘Though he wrote on the rulers, his sympathies lay with the people.’
      • ‘He also supports Glasgow Rangers, while he's also got Chelsea 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.’
      agreement, harmony, favour, approval, approbation, support, encouragement, goodwill, commendation, partiality
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    2. 2.2Agreement with or approval of an opinion or aim; a favorable attitude.
      ‘I have some sympathy for this view’
      • ‘However, such a claim is unlikely to attract judicial sympathy for two reasons.’
      • ‘I have more sympathy with concerns about the ability of the infrastructure to support the new residents.’
      • ‘The tone is balanced, despite the author's sympathy for the causes of the disenfranchised.’
      • ‘The landed gentry had some sympathy with popular resentment of the activities of moneyed and mercantile entrepreneurs.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And many lower officers and constabulary had full sympathy with the marauding mobs.’
      • ‘Becoming America suggests that Butler has little sympathy with that hermeneutic view.’
      • ‘Now when pensioners take to the streets, the press is full of sympathy and understanding.’
      • ‘An opinion poll last week showed there is widespread sympathy for the strikes.’
      • ‘I am forced to conclude that their silence implies agreement, sympathy, or collusion.’
      • ‘Whilst I have every sympathy with his concerns, we have to present our pupils at test centres of their choice.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We are therefore obliged to look upon the arguments for affirmative action with sympathy and an open mind.’
      • ‘This group had ideological sympathy with commando operations against the Israelis.’
      • ‘If the comments did reflect any sympathy on his part for terrorism then clearly they were misdirected.’
      • ‘We have considerable sympathy with the view the judge took.’
      • ‘While I have sympathy with this argument it is noticeable that no one is arguing to use the existing powers to their greatest effect.’
      • ‘Keegan deserves a moment of sympathy for his honest comments, but not much more than a moment.’
      • ‘They were desperately trying to generate support and sympathy among people who hadn't formed an opinion on foxhunting.’
    3. 2.3Relating harmoniously to something else; in keeping.
      ‘repairs had to be in sympathy with the original structure’
      • ‘However planning officers at the national park are keen for the site to be cleared and redeveloped in sympathy with the surrounding landscape.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It demands the development is in sympathy with the area.’
      • ‘Who wanted the weather to be in sympathy with their moods?’
      • ‘They altered parts of the house, but retained the basic style which was built in sympathy with the environment.’
      • ‘This season, he gave us an almost faultless collection that was totally in sympathy with how many women wish to dress.’
      • ‘The judges felt the library building had a definite wow factor and that the architecture is in sympathy with the existing physical environment.’
      • ‘In sympathy with its subject matter, the work has a veiled, half awake quality.’
      • ‘The proposed chalets are not in sympathy with any of the local buildings.’
      • ‘However, as with all development, it must be done in sympathy with what exists there already.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We shall be building in sympathy with neighbouring settlements.’
      • ‘GMO products should exist in sympathy with the world's food chain.’
      • ‘I long to live in a culture with which I feel in harmony and in sympathy.’
      • ‘The old style decorative lamps are in sympathy with the narrow street and its small retail outlets.’
    4. 2.4The state or fact of responding in a way similar or corresponding to an action elsewhere.
      ‘the magnetic field oscillates in sympathy’
      • ‘Very few bells to be found on these rare instruments even if there are many strings vibrating 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.’


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