• synonyms


[adjective kuhm-pash-uh-nit; verb kuhm-pash-uh-neyt]
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  1. having or showing compassion: a compassionate person; a compassionate letter.
  2. granted in an emergency: compassionate military leave granted to attend a funeral.
  3. Obsolete. pitiable.
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verb (used with object), com·pas·sion·at·ed, com·pas·sion·at·ing.
  1. Archaic. to pity or have compassion for.
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Origin of compassionate

First recorded in 1580–90; compassion + -ate1
Related formscom·pas·sion·ate·ly, adverbcom·pas·sion·ate·ness, nounun·com·pas·sion·ate, adjectiveun·com·pas·sion·ate·ly, adverbun·com·pas·sion·ate·ness, noun


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1. pitying, sympathizing, sympathetic, tender.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for compassionate

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Our Government must at the same time be both competent and compassionate.

  • Were you to know how I have suffered, you would be compassionate.

    The Dream

    Emile Zola

  • He was quite incapable of any compassionate feeling about the boy, or about his fate.

    A Tale of Two Cities

    Charles Dickens

  • Not one to save her,––not one of all the compassionate people!


    William D. Howells

  • The others looked at him and smiled with an air of compassionate superiority.


    Emile Zola

British Dictionary definitions for compassionate


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

Word Origin and History for compassionate


1580s, from compassion + -ate (1). Related: Compassionately. Phrase compassionate conservatism in American political language recorded by 1992, popularized, if not coined, by Marvin Olasky, University of Texas at Austin instructor.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper