[ adjective kuhm-pash-uh-nit; verb kuhm-pash-uh-neyt ]
/ adjective kəmˈpæʃ ə nɪt; verb kəmˈpæʃ əˌneɪt /
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See synonyms for: compassionate / compassionated / compassionates / compassionating on Thesaurus.com


having or showing compassion: a compassionate person; a compassionate letter.
granted in an emergency: compassionate military leave granted to attend a funeral.
Obsolete. pitiable.

verb (used with object), com·pas·sion·at·ed, com·pas·sion·at·ing.

Archaic. to pity or have compassion for.

SYNONYMS FOR compassionate

1 pitying, sympathizing, sympathetic, tender.



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Origin of compassionate

First recorded in 1580–90; compassion + -ate1

OTHER WORDS FROM compassionate

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What does compassionate mean?

Compassionate means having compassion—a feeling of sympathy or pity for others, especially one that makes you want to help them.

Being compassionate typically means you care and you want to help. The word can describe a person, their actions, or a situation that involves or is based on compassion.

The word compassion is sometimes used interchangeably with sympathy, and compassionate is sometimes used to mean sympathetic, which most most commonly means sharing emotions with someone else, especially sadness. These words are all used in the context of feeling sorry for people who are in negative situations. But being compassionate is often understood as having a feeling that motivates you to help them.

The opposite of being compassionate is being uncompassionate—indifferent or cold-hearted.

The word compassionate can also be used in a more specific way to mean granted in circumstances that call for compassion. The word is used this way in the phrase compassionate leave, which refers to permission to be absent, such as from military duty, due to a death or illness in the family or other personal reasons.

Example: We should be compassionate toward others because that’s how we want to be treated.

Where does compassionate come from?

The first records of the word compassionate come from the late 1500s. It comes from the Late Latin compassiō, meaning “fellow feeling,” from compatī, “to suffer with.” The suffix -ate is used to form adjectives. Compassionate and sympathetic are sometimes used to mean the same thing, and their roots mean the same things, too. The path in sympathetic and the passion in compassionate are both rooted in words that mean “to suffer,” and the com- and sym- at the beginning of each word both mean “with.”

Being compassionate may involve sharing in someone’s suffering, but the word most commonly describes a person who has a desire to end that suffering by helping in some way. It’s often associated with other words related to caring about people, especially kind.

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What are some other forms related to compassionate?

  • compassionately (adverb)
  • uncompassionate (adjective)
  • uncompassionately (adverb)
  • compassion (noun)

What are some synonyms for compassionate?

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

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

How is compassionate used in real life?

Compassionate 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 compassionate!

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

A. happy
B. kind
C. sympathetic
D. merciful

How to use compassionate in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for compassionate

/ (kəmˈpæʃənət) /


showing or having compassion
compassionate leave leave granted, esp to a serviceman, on the grounds of bereavement, family illness, etc

Derived forms of compassionate

compassionately, adverbcompassionateness, noun
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