[ em-puh-thahyz ]
/ ˈɛm pəˌθaɪz /
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verb (used without object), em·pa·thized, em·pa·thiz·ing.

to experience empathy (often followed by with): His ability to empathize with people made him an excellent marriage counselor.



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Also especially British, em·pa·thise .

Origin of empathize

First recorded in 1920–25; empath(y) + -ize


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


What does empathize mean?

To empathize with someone is to imagine or try to deeply understand what they are feeling or what it’s like to be in their situation.

The ability or the practice of doing this is called empathy, which is often described as the ability to feel what others are feeling as if you are feeling it yourself. So, to empathize is to feel empathy for someone. People who do this are described as empathetic.

Some people use the word empathize interchangeably or in overlapping ways with the word sympathize, which generally means to share someone else’s emotions, especially sadness. However, others distinguish the two terms by emphasizing the importance of empathizing with others (feeling their pain) as opposed to sympathizing with them (feeling sorry for them).

Example: Having faced many of the same challenges, Nyala is able to empathize with other immigrants and what they go through. 

Where does empathize come from?

The first records of the word empathize 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 sympathize means “with” or “together.” The -ize in both words is used to make them verbs.

While sympathizing with someone often means pitying them or feeling bad for them, empathizing is feeling or attempting to feel and understand exactly how a person feels and what it’s like to be them. When you empathize with someone, you identify with them—as if you were them. In other words, empathizing is feeling and understanding what it’s like to be “in someone else’s shoes.” Empathizing usually involves showing kindness and having compassion—the desire to do something to help a person and reduce their pain. People described as empathetic or empathic 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 empathize?

  • empathise (British English spelling)
  • empathy (noun)

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


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

What are some words empathize may be commonly confused with?

How is empathize used in real life?

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


Try using empathize!

Which of the following actions is an example of empathizing?

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

Example sentences from the Web for empathize

British Dictionary definitions for empathize



/ (ˈɛmpəˌθaɪz) /


(intr) to engage in or feel empathy
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

Medical definitions for empathize

[ ĕmpə-thīz′ ]


To feel empathy in relation to another person.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.