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apathetic

[ ap-uh-thet-ik ]
/ ˌæp əˈθɛt ɪk /
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adjective
having or showing little or no emotion: apathetic behavior.
not interested or concerned; indifferent or unresponsive: an apathetic audience.
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Also ap·a·thet·i·cal .

Origin of apathetic

First recorded in 1735–45; apath(y) + (path)etic

OTHER WORDS FROM apathetic

ap·a·thet·i·cal·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

VOCAB BUILDER

What does apathetic mean?

Apathetic means uncaring.

It’s an adjective form of apathy—the state of not caring. It can also mean the absence or suppression of emotion or passion.

Apathetic is especially used to describe people with a lack of interest or concern about things, especially those that others find important or exciting.

Apathetic often means about the same thing as indifferent, but it’s more often used in the context of someone’s lack of action when action is needed.

The word apathetic is typically used in a negative way to criticize someone as being irresponsible or insensitive. When someone is accused of being apathetic, it usually means the person making the accusation thinks the apathetic person should care more—or at all.

Example: Your generation is astoundingly apathetic—it’s like none of you care about any of the big problems in the world!

Where does apathetic come from?

The first records of the word apathetic come from around 1740. Its base word, apathy, comes from the Greek apathḗs, meaning “unfeeling,” from a-, “a lack of,” and pathos, “feeling.” The same root forms the basis of words such as empathy and sympathy, and apathetic is made into an adjective in the same way as empathetic, sympathetic, and pathetic.

Describing someone as apathetic doesn’t necessarily mean they feel nothing. But it’s most commonly used to describe someone who doesn’t care enough to do something, especially in a situation that calls for action. In this way, people considered apathetic are often to have an intentionally indifferent attitude that they’ve adopted in order to avoid dealing with problems, taking on challenges, or getting involved with difficult situations.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to apathetic?

  • apathetically (adverb)
  • apathy (noun)

What are some synonyms for apathetic?

What are some words that share a root or word element with apathetic

What are some words that often get used in discussing apathetic?

How is apathetic used in real life?

The word apathetic is usually used in a way that’s critical of the people it’s used to describe—even when people apply it to themselves.

 

 

Try using apathetic!

Which of the following words is NOT a synonym of apathetic?

A. indifferent
B. involved
C. unconcerned
D. detached

How to use apathetic in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for apathetic

apathetic
/ (ˌæpəˈθɛtɪk) /

adjective
having or showing little or no emotion; indifferent

Derived forms of apathetic

apathetically, adverb

Word Origin for apathetic

C18: from apathy + pathetic
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

Medical definitions for apathetic

apathetic
[ ăp′ə-thĕtĭk ]

adj.
Lacking interest or concern; indifferent.

Other words from apathetic

ap′a•theti•cal•ly adv.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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