[ em-puh-thet-ik ]
/ ˌɛm pəˈθɛt ɪk /
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relating to or characterized by empathy, the psychological identification with the emotions, thoughts, or attitudes of others: One of the great strengths of the school is our sensitive, empathetic counseling staff.
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Also em·path·ic [em-path-ik]. /ɛmˈpæθ ɪk/.

Origin of empathetic

First recorded in 1930–35; empath(y) + -etic


em·pa·thet·i·cal·ly, em·path·i·cal·ly, adverbnon·em·path·ic, adjective


empathetic , sympathetic, simpatico

Words nearby empathetic

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does empathetic mean?

Empathetic means having or tending to have empathy—the ability or practice of imagining or trying to deeply understand what someone else is feeling or what it’s like to be in their situation.

Empathy is often described as the ability to feel what others are feeling as if you are feeling it yourself. To feel empathy for someone is to empathize. People who do this are described as empathetic.

Some people use the word empathetic interchangeably or in overlapping ways with the word sympathetic, which generally means sharing or tending to share emotions with someone else, especially sadness. However, others distinguish the two terms by emphasizing the importance of being empathetic toward others (feeling their pain) as opposed to being sympathetic toward them (feeling sorry for them).

A less common variant of empathetic is empathic.

Example: Having faced many of the same challenges, Nyala is empathetic to the struggles of immigrants.

Where does empathetic come from?

The first records of the word empathetic come from the 1900s. The word empathy, first recorded in the late 1800s, comes from a translation of the German term Einfühlung, which literally means “a feeling in.” It ultimately derives from the Greek empátheia, meaning “affection” or “passion,” from em-, meaning “in,” and path-, the base of a verb meaning “to suffer.” In contrast, the sym- in sympathetic means “with” or “together.”

While being sympathetic toward someone often means pitying them or feeling bad for them, being empathetic is feeling or attempting to feel and understand exactly how a person feels and what it’s like to be them. When you’re empathetic toward someone, you identify with them—as if you were them. In other words, being empathetic is feeling and understanding what it’s like to be “in someone else’s shoes.” Being empathetic usually involves showing kindness and having compassion—the desire to do something to help a person and reduce their pain. People described as empathetic due to being very sensitive to the emotions of others are sometimes called empathists or empaths.

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What are some other forms related to empathetic?

  • empathic (adjective)
  • empathetically (adverb)
  • empathy (noun)

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


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


What are some words empathetic may be commonly confused with?

How is ​empathetic used in real life?

Empathetic is often used in discussions about how people should try to have more empathy.



Try using empathetic!

Which of the following actions is an example of being empathetic?

A. Feeling sorry for someone
B. Ignoring someone
C. Imagining how someone feels
D. Complimenting someone

How to use empathetic in a sentence