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[pit-ee-uh-buh l] /ˈpɪt i ə bəl/
evoking or deserving pity; lamentable:
pitiable, homeless children.
evoking or deserving contemptuous pity; miserable; contemptible:
a pitiable lack of character.
Origin of pitiable
late Middle English
1425-75; late Middle English < Old French piteable, equivalent to pite(er) to pity + -able -able
Related forms
pitiableness, noun
pitiably, adverb
unpitiable, adjective
unpitiably, adverb
Can be confused
piteous, pitiable, pitiful (see synonym study at pitiful)
1, 2. See pitiful. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for pitiable
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The condition in which I was now placed rendered me indeed a pitiable object.

    Biography of a Slave Charles Thompson
  • Let me tell you that your poor uncle is pitiable in his foolishness this morning.

  • I am not a majestic man, but a pitiable and ridiculous one!'

    Father Sergius Leo Tolstoy
  • The thing seemed to me altogether so pitiable—and yet—and yet, I had sworn.

    The First Violin Jessie Fothergill
  • He limped along in such a pitiable state that Jean's sympathy was aroused.

    The Downfall Emile Zola
  • How pitiable are their physical conditions, their privation and distress of body!

    Murder Point

    Coningsby Dawson
British Dictionary definitions for pitiable


exciting or deserving pity or contempt
Derived Forms
pitiableness, noun
pitiably, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for pitiable

mid-15c., "merciful, compassionate," from Old French piteable "compassionate, merciful, pious" (13c.; Modern French pitoyable), from piteer "to pity" (see pity). Meaning "deserving pity" is recorded from late 15c. Related: Pitiably.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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