- 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 pathetically
At what point does women being crass, loud, manish… unashamedly common and pathetically hungover [become] remotely humorous?The Podcast Too Hot for iTunes
February 18, 2014
Has anyone else noticed how pathetically frightened the Republican Party is that Obamacare just might succeed?The GOP Is Terrified Obamacare Could Be a Success
July 11, 2013
The priorities were terribly and pathetically misplaced as they are at too many American universities.Joe Paterno Was a Dictator: Penn State Deserved Its Punishment
July 24, 2012
I was always "too drunk" or "had to get up early" or—pathetically—"was injured during rugby."My Life as a Gay Officer
May 26, 2010
Most pathetically, when first confronted by the Queen of Hearts, Alice does a face plant in the ground, out of fear and deference.Alice, Bratty in Wonderland
February 28, 2010
"Three boys and a babe at the buzzom," said Mr. Stubmore pathetically.Night and Morning, Complete
It is a most pathetically pure, chaste presentation of a grand subject.Almost A Man
When Calhoun did so, Murgatroyd clung to him pathetically and said, "Chee-chee!"Pariah Planet
A clumsy, forecastle method, and most pathetically engaging, to be sure!The Cruise of the Shining Light
He looked at Gorman, pathetically anxious for some crumb of encouragement.The Island Mystery
George A. Birmingham
- 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 pathetically
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.