[ pit-i-fuhl ]
/ ˈpɪt ɪ fəl /


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

late Middle English word dating back to 1400–50; see origin at pity, -ful


Related forms

Can be confused

piteous pitiable pitiful (see synonym study at the current entry)

Synonym study

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. 2019

Examples from the Web for pitifully

British Dictionary definitions for pitifully


/ (ˈpɪtɪfʊl) /


arousing or deserving pity
arousing or deserving contempt
archaic full of pity or compassion

Derived Forms

pitifully, adverbpitifulness, 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