• synonyms


  1. the ancient Roman personification of familial affection, patriotism, and piety.
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[pee-ey-tah, pyey-tah, pee-ey-tuh, pyey-]
noun (sometimes lowercase) Fine Arts.
  1. a representation of the Virgin Mary mourning over the body of the dead Christ, usually shown held on her lap.
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Origin of Pietà

1635–45; < Italian: literally, pity < Latin pietās piety; cf. pity
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for pietas

Historical Examples

British Dictionary definitions for pietas


  1. a sculpture, painting, or drawing of the dead Christ, supported by the Virgin Mary
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Word Origin

Italian: pity, from Latin pietās piety
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 pietas



"Virgin holding the dead body of Christ," 1640s, from Italian pieta, from Latin pietatem (see piety).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

pietas in Culture


[(pyay-tah; pee-ay-tah)]

A painting, drawing, or sculpture of Mary, the mother of Jesus, holding the dead body of Jesus. The word means “pity” in Italian.

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The most famous of four Pietàs by Michelangelo is a sculpture at Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.