[ sim-puh-thahyz ]
/ ˈsɪm pəˌθaɪz /
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verb (used without object), sym·pa·thized, sym·pa·thiz·ing.
to be in sympathy or agreement of feeling; share in a feeling (often followed by with).
to feel a compassionate sympathy, as for suffering or trouble (often followed by with).
to express sympathy or condole (often followed by with).
to be in approving accord, as with a person or cause: to sympathize with a person's aims.
to agree, correspond, or accord.
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Also especially British, sym·pa·thise .

Origin of sympathize

1580–90; <Middle French sympathiser, equivalent to sympath(ie) sympathy + -iser-ize



empathize, sympathize
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What does sympathize mean?

To sympathize with someone is to feel sympathy for them—to share their emotions, especially sadness.

This is usually understood to mean that you feel bad for them because they are in a negative situation.

The word sympathize can also mean to offer one’s sympathies or condolences, such as to someone who is in mourning.

Sympathize also sometimes means to be supportive of or loyal to someone or something, such as a leader or cause, as in Many working class voters sympathize with the senator’s platform. The word sympathizer is especially used to refer to someone who sympathizes in this way.

Someone who sympathizes can be described as sympathetic. Sympathetic can also be used to describe someone who causes you to sympathize with them.

Some people use the word sympathize interchangeably or in overlapping ways with the word empathize, which means to have empathy—to imagine or try to deeply understand what someone is feeling or what it’s like to be in their situation. However, others distinguish the two terms by emphasizing the importance of empathizing with others (feeling their pain) as opposed to sympathizing with them (feeling sorry for them).

Example: I’ve experienced the same thing, so I can sympathize.

Where does sympathize come from?

The first records of the word sympathize come from the late 1500s. Its base word, sympathy, comes from the Greek sympátheia, from sym-, “with,” and páth(os), “suffering.” The ending -ize is used to make verbs.

While sympathizing with someone often means pitying them or feeling bad for them, empathizing is feeling or attempting to feel and understand exactly how a person feels and what it’s like to be them. When you empathize with someone, you identify with them—as if you were them.

When you sympathize with a public figure or a fictional character, it means you identify with them and care about what happens to them. Such a person can be called a sympathetic figure or a sympathetic character.

When you sympathize with a movement, you can be called a sympathizer. This is often used in a negative way to criticize such support. This is the way the word is used in the phrase Communist sympathizer.

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What are some other forms related to sympathize?

  • sympathizingly (adverb)
  • sympathy (noun)

What are some synonyms for sympathize?

What are some words that share a root or word element with sympathize

What are some words that often get used in discussing sympathize?

What are some words sympathize may be commonly confused with?

How is sympathize used in real life?

Sympathize is often used in contexts involving the suffering and grief of others.



Try using sympathize!

Which of the following words is NOT a synonym of sympathize?

A. commiserate
B. support
C. ignore
D. approve

How to use sympathize in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for sympathize



/ (ˈsɪmpəˌθaɪz) /

verb (intr often foll by with)
to feel or express compassion or sympathy (for); commiseratehe sympathized with my troubles
to share or understand the sentiments or ideas (of); be in sympathy (with)

Derived forms of sympathize

sympathizer or sympathiser, 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