- causing or evoking pity, sympathetic sadness, sorrow, etc.; pitiful; pitiable: a pathetic letter; a pathetic sight.
- affecting or moving the emotions.
- pertaining to or caused by the emotions.
- miserably or contemptibly inadequate: In return for our investment we get a pathetic three percent interest.
Origin of pathetic
SynonymsSee more synonyms for pathetic on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for pathetic
And we can listen to the pathetic, creepy bravado of a former vice president, wrong on nearly every decision he made.Dick Cheney vs. ‘Unbroken’
December 15, 2014
But this had to be one of the most pathetic presidential wardrobes in American history.From Auschwitz to the White House: One Tailor’s American Tale
December 5, 2014
Telling people that you knew her when would just be pathetic.Is Bigger Better for St. Vincent?
December 4, 2014
Fortunately, they are drawn from a pathetic preterite far beneath the contempt of our cultural elite.The FBI’s Bogus ISIS Bust
November 21, 2014
Conning people into buying a book to prepare for an "Ebola apocalypse" is not just irresponsible, it's pathetic.The Sham, Scaremongering Guide to Ebola
November 20, 2014
The fate of Owthorne, a village once existing not far from Withernsea, is pathetic.Yorkshire Painted And Described
Her fingers were stiff, but so was her will: the way she stuck to her work was pathetic.Weighed and Wanting
You must have your soup, and (I do not mean to be pathetic) what is soup without salt?
The father looked at Mary with a reproach that was pathetic.
There was a pathetic pleading in the dulled eyes with which he regarded the Inspector.
- evoking or expressing pity, sympathy, etc
- distressingly inadequatethe old man sat huddled in front of a pathetic fire
- British informal ludicrously or contemptibly uninteresting or worthlessthe standard of goalkeeping in amateur football today is pathetic
- obsolete of or affecting the feelings
- pathetic sentiments
Word Origin and History for pathetic
1590s, "affecting the emotions, exciting the passions," from Middle French pathétique "moving, stirring, affecting" (16c.), from Late Latin patheticus, from Greek pathetikos "subject to feeling, sensitive, capable of emotion," from pathetos "liable to suffer," verbal adjective of pathein "to suffer" (see pathos). Meaning "arousing pity, pitiful" is first recorded 1737. Colloquial sense of "so miserable as to be ridiculous" is attested from 1937. Related: Pathetical (1570s); pathetically. Pathetic fallacy (1856, first used by Ruskin) is the attribution of human qualities to inanimate objects.