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a combining form occurring in loanwords from Greek, where it meant “suffering,” “feeling” (antipathy; sympathy); in compound words of modern formation, often used with the meaning “morbid affection,” “disease” (arthropathy; deuteropathy; neuropathy; psychopathy), and hence used also in names of systems or methods of treating disease (allopathy; homeopathy; hydropathy; osteopathy).
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Compare -path, -pathia.

Origin of -pathy

Combining form representing Greek pátheia suffering, feeling, equivalent to páth(os) pathos + -eia-y3
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does -pathy mean?

The combining form -pathy is used like a suffix with a variety of meanings, including “suffering,” “disease,” and “methods of treating disease.” It is widely used in medical terms, especially in pathology.

The form -pathy comes from the Greek pátheia, meaning “suffering” or “feeling.” It shares an origin with the English word pathos. You can learn more about the meaning of pathos at our entry for the word. The words antipathy, apathy, empathy, and sympathy also share a root with the Greek pátheia.

What are variants of -pathy?

An obsolete variant of -pathy is -pathia, as in psychopathia. This form is also closely related to two other combining forms: -path and -pathic. Want to know more? Check out our Words That Use entries for all three forms.

Examples of -pathy

An example of a word you may have encountered that features -pathy is psychopathy, “a mental disorder in which an individual manifests amoral and antisocial behavior, lack of ability to love or establish meaningful personal relationships, extreme egocentricity, failure to learn from experience, etc.”

The first portion of the word, psycho-, means “psyche” or “psychological,” from the Greek psȳchḗ, meaning “mind.” As we have seen, -pathy means “disease.” Psychopathy literally translates to “mind disease.”

What are some words that use the combining form -pathy?

What are some other forms that -pathy may be commonly confused with?

Break it down!

The combining form oto- means “ear.” With this in mind, what kind of medical condition is otopathy?

How to use -pathy in a sentence

  • If we are really ill we go to a specialist on our ailment, no matter what “pathy” we prefer.

    Maids Wives and Bachelors|Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr
  • It was not orthodox, it belonged to no pathy, and in consequence had the opposition of all branches of the profession.

British Dictionary definitions for -pathy


n combining form
indicating feeling, sensitivity, or perceptiontelepathy
indicating disease or a morbid conditionpsychopathy
indicating a method of treating diseaseosteopathy

Derived forms of -pathy

-pathic, adj combining form

Word Origin for -pathy

from Greek patheia suffering; see pathos
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