One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1‘two children in a very pitiful state’
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
2‘they earn a pitiful $50 a month’
paltry, miserable, meagre, beggarly, insufficient, insignificant, trifling, negligible, pitiable, derisory
informal pathetic, measly, piddling, piffling, mingy
British informal poxy
North American informal dinky
3‘his performance was pitiful’
dreadful, awful, terrible, lamentable, hopeless, wretched, sorry, poor, bad, feeble, well below par, pitiable, woeful, inadequate, contemptible, deplorable, despicable, laughable, worthless
informal pathetic, useless, rotten, appalling, lousy, abysmal, dire, the pits
British informal chronic, pants, a load of pants
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