evoking or deserving pity; pathetic: piteous cries for help.
Archaic. compassionate.

Origin of piteous

1250–1300; Middle English; replacing pitous < Old French < Medieval Latin pietōsus. See pity, -ous
Related formspit·e·ous·ly, adverbpit·e·ous·ness, nouno·ver·pit·e·ous, adjectiveo·ver·pit·e·ous·ly, adverbo·ver·pit·e·ous·ness, nounun·pit·e·ous, adjectiveun·pit·e·ous·ly, adverb
Can be confusedpiteous pitiable pitiful (see synonym study at pitiful)

Synonyms for piteous

Synonym study

1. See pitiful.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for piteous

Historical Examples of piteous

  • Are none to be gentle and kind, none to be piteous and forgiving?

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • The poor fellow gave a piteous moan, but still did not stir.

    Rico and Wiseli

    Johanna Spyri

  • He began shivering at this again, and his voice sank into a piteous quaver.

    In the Valley

    Harold Frederic

  • Stryker turned upon him an expression at once ludicrous, piteous and hateful.

    The Black Bag

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • She remained kneeling by the chair, looking up at him with a most piteous face.

British Dictionary definitions for piteous



exciting or deserving pity
archaic having or expressing pity
Derived Formspiteously, adverbpiteousness, noun
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 piteous

c.1300, from Anglo-French pitous, Old French pitos "pious; merciful, compassionate, moved to pity; pitiful" (12c., Modern French piteux), from Medieval Latin pietosus "merciful, pitiful," in Vulgar Latin "dutiful," from Latin pietas "dutiful conduct, compassion" (see piety). Related: Piteously; piteousness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper