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[pit-ee] /ˈpɪt i/
noun, plural pities.
sympathetic or kindly sorrow evoked by the suffering, distress, or misfortune of another, often leading one to give relief or aid or to show mercy:
to feel pity for astarving child.
a cause or reason for pity, sorrow, or regret:
What a pity you could not go!
Informal. motivated by a sense of pity or sympathy for others or for oneself:
to have pity sex with a virgin; to go on a pity date with a loser.
verb (used with object), pitied, pitying.
to feel pity or compassion for; be sorry for; commiserate with.
verb (used without object), pitied, pitying.
to have compassion; feel pity.
have / take pity, to show mercy or compassion.
Origin of pity
1175-1225; Middle English pite < Old French pite, earlier pitet < Latin pietāt- (stem of pietās) piety
Related forms
outpity, verb (used with object), outpitied, outpitying.
unpitied, adjective
1. commiseration, compassion. See sympathy. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for pities
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She won't say 'yes' then simply because she pities me or because she doesn't realize what it means.

    Shavings Joseph C. Lincoln
  • It's just because our friend there sees it that she pities me.

  • There's good stuff in the lad, and it would be a thousand pities it should be corrupted.

    One Of Them Charles James Lever
  • Decoud thought that it was a thousand pities the wretch had not died of fright.

  • It was a thousand pities he ever came here and discovered that clay.

  • It's a thousand pities the captain couldn't have come back and enjoyed it with her.

    A Little Girl in Old Salem

    Amanda Minnie Douglas
  • "Francis, it's a thousand pities that you and I can't change places," he said.

    Michael E. F. Benson
  • We are cut down with cruel axes and burned to death, and no one pities us.'

  • Women said she was a dear, and that it was a thousand pities she did not marry.

    Our Casualty And Other Stories James Owen Hannay, AKA George A. Birmingham
British Dictionary definitions for pities


noun (pl) pities
sympathy or sorrow felt for the sufferings of another
have pity on, take pity on, to have sympathy or show mercy for
something that causes regret or pity
an unfortunate chance: what a pity you can't come
more's the pity, it is highly regrettable (that)
verb pities, pitying, pitied
(transitive) to feel pity for
Derived Forms
pitying, adjective
pityingly, adverb
Word Origin
C13: from Old French pité, from Latin pietās duty
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 pities



early 13c., from Old French pite, pitet "pity, mercy, compassion, care, tenderness; pitiful state, wretched condition" (11c., Modern French pitié), from Latin pietatem (nominative pietas) "piety, loyalty, duty" (see piety). Replaced Old English mildheortness, literally "mild-heartness," itself a loan-translation of Latin misericordia. English pity and piety were not fully distinguished until 17c. Transferred sense of "grounds or cause for pity" is from late 14c.



"to feel pity for," late 15c., from Old French pitier and from pity (n.). Related: Pitied; pitying.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with pities
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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