characterized by, proceeding from, exhibiting, or feeling sympathy; sympathizing; compassionate: a sympathetic listener.
acting or affected by, of the nature of, or pertaining to a special affinity or mutual relationship; congenial: With their many similar tastes, he found her a most sympathetic companion.
looking upon with favor (often followed by to or toward): She is sympathetic to the project.
Anatomy, Physiology.
  1. 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.
  2. Obsolete.pertaining to the autonomic nervous system in its entirety.
Physics. noting or pertaining to vibrations, sounds, etc., produced by a body as the direct result of similar vibrations in a different body.

Origin of sympathetic

1635–45; < New Latin sympathēticus < Greek sympathētikós. See sym-, pathetic
Related formssym·pa·thet·i·cal·ly, adverbnon·sym·pa·thet·ic, adjectivenon·sym·pa·thet·i·cal·ly, adverbqua·si-sym·pa·thet·ic, adjectivequa·si-sym·pa·thet·i·cal·ly, adverbsu·per·sym·pa·thet·ic, adjectiveun·sym·pa·thet·ic, adjectiveun·sym·pa·thet·i·cal·ly, adverb
Can be confusedempathetic sympathetic simpatico

Synonyms for sympathetic

1. commiserating, kind, tender, affectionate. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sympathetically

Contemporary Examples of sympathetically

Historical Examples of sympathetically

  • "Better not try to describe her—while I'm by, you know," said Mrs. Drelmer, sympathetically.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • "I wonder that you take her to drive with you," suggested Philip, sympathetically.


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • "I think that's a good mare of yours, Mr. Porter," said Crane, sympathetically.


    W. A. Fraser

  • "I should say you've got a pretty good handful," Lady Pen said sympathetically.

    Jan and Her Job

    L. Allen Harker

  • Polly squeezed it sympathetically, and told him how sorry she was for his accident.

British Dictionary definitions for sympathetically



characterized by, feeling, or showing sympathy; understanding
in accord with the subject's personality or mood; congeniala sympathetic atmosphere
(when postpositive, often foll by to or towards) showing agreement (with) or favour (towards)sympathetic to the proposals
anatomy physiol of or relating to the division of the autonomic nervous system that acts in opposition to the parasympathetic system accelerating the heartbeat, dilating the bronchi, inhibiting the smooth muscles of the digestive tract, etcCompare parasympathetic
relating to vibrations occurring as a result of similar vibrations in a neighbouring bodysympathetic strings on a sitar
Derived Formssympathetically, adverb
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 sympathetically



1640s, "pertaining to sympathy," from Modern Latin sympatheticus, from Greek sympathetikos, from sympathein, from sympathes "having a fellow feeling, affected by like feelings" (see sympathy). Meaning "having fellow feeling" is recorded from 1718. In anatomical sense, the word is attested from 1769, from Modern Latin (nervus) sympathicus, coined by Jacques-Benigne Winslow (1669-1760), Danish anatomist living in Paris. Related: Sympathetically.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for sympathetically




Of, relating to, or acting on the sympathetic nervous system.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.