use-icon

HOW TO USE THE DICTIONARY

Learn what the dictionary tells you about words.

Get Started Now!

Some compound words (like bus rapid transit, dog whistle, or identity theft) don’t appear on the drop-down list when you enter them into the search window. If a compound term doesn’t appear in the drop-down list, try entering the term into the search window and then hit the search button (instead of the “enter” key). Alternatively, begin searches for compound terms with a quotation mark.

use-icon

THE USAGE PANEL

The Usage Panel is a group of nearly 200 prominent scholars, creative writers, journalists, diplomats, and others in occupations requiring mastery of language. The Panelists are surveyed annually to gauge the acceptability of particular usages and grammatical constructions.

The Panelists

puzzle-icon

NEED HELP SOLVING A CROSSWORD PUZZLE?

Go to our Crossword Puzzle Solver and type in the letters that you know, and the Solver will produce a list of possible solutions.

open-icon

INTERESTED IN DICTIONARIES?

Check out the Dictionary Society of North America at http://www.dictionarysociety.com

open-icon

AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY APP

The new American Heritage Dictionary app is now available for iOS and Android.

scroll-icon

INDO-EUROPEAN & SEMITIC ROOTS APPENDICES

Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

Indo-European Roots

Semitic Roots

The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

open-icon

OPEN DICTIONARY PROJECT

Share your ideas for new words and new meanings of old words!

Start Sharing Now!

100-words-icon

See word lists from the best-selling 100 Words Series!

Find out more!

pit·y (pĭtē)
Share:
n. pl. pit·ies
1. Sympathy and sorrow aroused by the misfortune or suffering of another.
2. A matter of regret: It's a pity she can't attend the reception.
v. pit·ied, pit·y·ing, pit·ies
v.tr.
To feel pity for or on account of: "No, he could not believe it a bad house; not such a house as a man was to be pitied for having" (Jane Austen). "An office worker pitied his confinement and slipped in to give him a loaf of bread" (Eric Scigliano).
v.intr.
To feel pity.
Idiom:
have/take pity on
To show compassion for.

[Middle English pite, from Old French, from Latin pietās, piety, compassion, from pius, dutiful.]

pity·ing·ly adv.

Synonyms: pity, compassion, sympathy, empathy, commiseration, condolence
These nouns signify kindly concern aroused by the misfortune, affliction, or suffering of another. Pity often implies a feeling of sorrow that inclines one to help or to show mercy. The word usually suggests that the person feeling pity is better off or in a superior position to the person who is the object of pity: "Going with her mother everywhere, she saw what Althea did not: how the other women invited her out of pity" (Kate Wheeler).
Compassion denotes deep awareness of the suffering of another and the wish to relieve it: "Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism" (Hubert H. Humphrey).
Sympathy denotes the act of or capacity for sharing in the sorrows or troubles of another: "They had little sympathy to spare for their unfortunate enemies" (William Hickling Prescott).
Empathy is an identification with and understanding of another's situation, feelings, and motives: Having changed schools several times as a child, I feel empathy for the transfer students. Commiseration often entails the expression of pity or sorrow: expressed their commiseration over the failure of the experiment. Condolence is formal, conventional sympathy, usually toward a person who has experienced the loss of a loved one: sent a letter of condolence to the bereaved family.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

This website is best viewed in Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or Safari. Some characters in pronunciations and etymologies cannot be displayed properly in Internet Explorer.