[ kuhm-pash-uhn ]
/ kəmˈpæʃ ən /


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 compassionate.

Nearby words

  1. compass plant,
  2. compass rafter,
  3. compass rose,
  4. compass saw,
  5. compass window,
  6. compassion club,
  7. compassion fatigue,
  8. compassionate,
  9. compassionate conservative,
  10. compassionately

Origin of compassion

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

Related formscom·pas·sion·less, adjectiveun·com·pas·sion, nounun·com·pas·sioned, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for compassionless


/ (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

Word Origin and History for compassionless



mid-14c., from Old French compassion "sympathy, pity" (12c.), from Late Latin compassionem (nominative compassio) "sympathy," noun of state from past participle stem of compati "to feel pity," from com- "together" (see com-) + pati "to suffer" (see passion).

Latin compassio is an ecclesiastical loan-translation of Greek sympatheia (see sympathy). An Old English loan-translation of compassion was efenðrowung.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper