- pertaining to that part of the autonomic nervous system consisting of nerves that arise from the thoracic and lumbar regions of the spinal cord, and functioning in opposition to the parasympathetic system, as in stimulating heartbeat, dilating the pupil of the eye, etc.
- Obsolete. pertaining to the autonomic nervous system in its entirety.
SYNONYMS FOR sympathetic
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OTHER WORDS FROM sympathetic
Words nearby sympathetic
What does sympathetic mean?
Sympathetic means having sympathy—having the same emotions as someone else, especially sadness.
Being sympathetic in this way is usually understood to mean that you feel bad for someone because they are in a negative situation.
Sympathetic is also sometimes used to mean supportive of or loyal to someone or something, as in The governor is trying to portray himself as sympathetic to the working class.
Sometimes, sympathetic is used to describe a person (or fictional character) who you can identify with and care about, as in His political ads try to make him look like a sympathetic figure.
Some people use the word sympathetic interchangeably or in overlapping ways with the word empathetic, which means having or tending to have empathy—the ability or practice of imagining or trying to deeply understand what someone else is feeling or what it’s like to be in their situation. However, others distinguish the two terms by emphasizing the importance of being empathetic toward others (feeling their pain) as opposed to being sympathetic toward them (feeling sorry for them).
Example: I’ve experienced the same thing, so I’m sympathetic toward them.
Where does sympathetic come from?
The first records of sympathetic come from the 1600s. It comes from the Greek sympathētikós, from sym-, “with,” and páth(os), “suffering.”
Sympathetic is usually used to describe someone who shares feelings of sadness with others. When we give someone a card that expresses our condolences after the death of a loved one, we call this a sympathy card. We usually give these cards to people when we didn’t know the person who died as well as they did—we may feel sad because they’re sad, but our level of grief does not match their own.
While being sympathetic toward someone often means pitying them or feeling bad for them, being empathetic often means feeling or attempting to feel and understand exactly how a person feels and what it’s like to be them.
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What are some other forms related to sympathetic?
What are some synonyms for sympathetic?
What are some words that share a root or word element with sympathetic?
What are some words that often get used in discussing sympathetic?
What are some words sympathetic may be commonly confused with?
How is sympathetic used in real life?
Sympathetic is often used in context involving the suffering and grief of others, but it’s also commonly used to describe people who are supportive or in favor of something or someone.
The death of a pet can cause huge amounts of grief, I couldn’t be more sympathetic.
— Kirstie Allsopp (@KirstieMAllsopp) September 5, 2020
It's not just white women. White men have been hosting self-pity parties for a long time, too, constantly blaming others for their own shortcomings. As a white male myself, I hear it all the time because it's assumed that I'll be a sympathetic ear. Well, I'm not. I'm disgusted.
— Donald R. Koelper (@Donald_from_HI) September 8, 2020
Try using sympathetic!
Which of the following words is NOT a synonym of sympathetic?
Example sentences from the Web for sympathetic
While I was sympathetic, it makes no sense to stick our head in the sand.
I completely get it and am sympathetic to my son's position.Carolyn Hax: He’s a great guy, except for the bigotry|Carolyn Hax|December 11, 2020|Washington Post
But, Young wanted to post the email in hopes that it would still convince people to shop early, and to be sympathetic about any delays.DTC brands are preparing for nightmare holiday shipping delays and out of stocks|Anna Hensel|December 4, 2020|Digiday
An issue I am deeply sympathetic with is that many authors don’t have access to affordable healthcare during this pandemic.As libraries fight for access to e-books, a new copyright champion emerges|Jeff|November 28, 2020|Fortune
It’s hard to imagine that Giuliani would similarly have been unable to either convince a Fox News host that his claims were legitimate or otherwise avoid being put in a position of tension with a sympathetic host.What line did Sidney Powell cross that Rudy Giuliani didn’t?|Philip Bump|November 23, 2020|Washington Post
At this point, the female rapper comes across as fairly sympathetic—that is, until Azealia Banks grabs the mic.Solange Smacks Jay Z, Legolas Slaps Bieber, and the Biggest Celebrity Feuds of the Year|Amy Zimmerman|December 24, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Goebbels, in fact, would be seen as the leader most sympathetic to the modernists.Top Nazis And Their Complicated Relationship With Artists|William O’Connor|November 30, 2014|DAILY BEAST
That is not to say the students who submit to the elitism and racism promoted by the USC Greek system are wholly sympathetic.Stepford Sororities: The Pressures of USC’s Greek Life|Maya Richard Craven|November 17, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Some Bush Administration officials were sympathetic , but told them that under existing law it would be very difficult.
He says the owner of the house in which he lives has not been sympathetic to him.This Man Lost 35 Relatives to Ebola and His Community Wants Him Gone|Wade C.L. Williams|October 30, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Father, mother, sister, and brother all played and worked together with rare combination of sympathetic gifts.Kipling Stories and Poems Every Child Should Know, Book II|Rudyard Kipling
The temptation to pour his financial troubles into the sympathetic ears of these two dear women he resisted.The Joyous Adventures of Aristide Pujol|William J. Locke
"And the first thing you did with your liberty was to come to Europe," said Miss Thangue, with a sympathetic smile.Ancestors|Gertrude Atherton
Nigel found him an excellent fellow, the most sympathetic and energetic man of Eastern blood whom he had ever encountered.Bella Donna|Robert Hichens
If a merry dance is produced by the agile bow, its sympathetic tones at once excite a corresponding feeling.Violins and Violin Makers|Joseph Pearce