[ kuhm-pash-uhn ]
/ kəmˈpæʃ ən /
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See synonyms for: compassion / compassionless on Thesaurus.com

a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.
verb (used with object)
Archaic. to have compassion for; compassionate.
Should you take this quiz on “shall” versus “should”? It should prove to be a quick challenge!
Question 1 of 6
Which form is used to state an obligation or duty someone has?

Origin of compassion

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English (from Anglo-French ), from Late Latin compassiōn- (stem of compassiō). See com-, passion

synonym study for compassion

1. See sympathy.


com·pas·sion·less, adjectiveun·com·pas·sion, nounun·com·pas·sioned, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does compassion mean?

Compassion is a feeling of sympathy or pity for others, especially one that makes you want to help them.

Compassion is sometimes used interchangeably with sympathy, which most most commonly means the sharing of emotions with someone else, especially sadness. Both words are used in the context of feeling sorry for people who are in negative situations. But compassion is often understood as a feeling that motivates you to help them.

The opposite of compassion is often thought to be indifference or cold-heartedness.

Someone who has compassion for others can be described as compassionate. Being compassionate typically means you care and you want to help.

Example: We should treat people with compassion because that’s how we want to be treated.

Where does compassion come from?

The first records of the word compassion come from the 1300s. It comes from the Late Latin compassiō, meaning “fellow feeling,” from compatī, “to suffer with.” Compassion and sympathy are sometimes used to mean the same thing, and their roots mean the same things, too. The pathy in sympathy and the passion in compassion are both rooted in words that mean “to suffer,” and the com- and sym- at the beginning of each word both mean “with.”

Compassion may involve sharing in someone’s suffering, but the word most commonly refers to a desire to end that suffering by helping in some way. It’s often associated with other words related to caring about people, such as kindness and empathy.

The phrase compassion fatigue refers to a kind of burnout that can result from constantly having to care for others or from being frequently faced with things intended to produce compassion, such as frequent requests for charitable donations.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to compassion?

What are some synonyms for compassion?

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

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

How is compassion used in real life?

Compassion is often used in the discussion of why people should treat others with kindness—as well as in the discussion of how some people don’t.



Try using compassion!

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

A. happiness
B. kindness
C. sympathy
D. clemency

How to use compassion in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for compassion

/ (kəmˈpæʃən) /

a feeling of distress and pity for the suffering or misfortune of another, often including the desire to alleviate it

Word Origin for compassion

C14: from Old French, from Late Latin compassiō fellow feeling, from compatī to suffer with, from Latin com- with + patī to bear, suffer
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