- evoking or deserving pity: a pitiful fate.
- evoking or deserving contempt by smallness, poor quality, etc.: pitiful attempts.
- Archaic. full of pity; compassionate.
Origin of pitiful
SynonymsSee more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
1, 2. Pitiful, pitiable, piteous apply to that which excites pity (with compassion or with contempt). That which is pitiful is touching and excites pity or is mean and contemptible: a pitiful leper; a pitiful exhibition of cowardice. Pitiable may mean lamentable, or wretched and paltry: a pitiable hovel. Piteous refers only to that which exhibits suffering and misery, and is therefore heart-rending: piteous poverty.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for pitiful
The number of diplomats was pitiful (45 appointees in 1860), as was the amount of money allocated to them.U.S. Embassies Have Always Been for Sale
January 2, 2015
Here, the time from exposure to illness is not years but days—and the death a rapid and pitiful one.Ebola Might Be Sexually Transmitted
September 4, 2014
This diatribe against the pitiful Washington Redskins summed it all up for their fans.The Best Columns of the Year
December 31, 2013
In losing, however, he will taint his possible rivals—including Rand Paul—as pitiful members of the "surrender caucus."Can Ted Cruz Win by Losing?
September 24, 2013
The over-the-top acting and pitiful effects are nothing—the winner here is the theme song, performed by a Johnny Cash-soundalike.Outlandish Work Training Videos: Alabama’s Mass Shooting Film & More
January 3, 2013
Is it not most pitiful to see a human being, made in the image of God, sunk so low?
It would be pitiful to have to make him still more miserable!
I do not know whether the sight to you would have been pitiful or ludicrous.Ester Ried Yet Speaking
Burke broke in on the girl's pitiful histrionics ruthlessly.Within the Law
It is all true, true to character, and pitiful beyond words.The Man Shakespeare
- arousing or deserving pity
- arousing or deserving contempt
- archaic full of pity or compassion
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 pitiful
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper