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 unsympathetic

Contemporary Examples of unsympathetic

Historical Examples of unsympathetic

  • It was awkward that his own people were all of them so unsympathetic about the children.

    Jan and Her Job

    L. Allen Harker

  • And this unsympathetic Sir Terence did not explain them to you?

    The Snare

    Rafael Sabatini

  • “You can search me,” said Reid, in his careless, unsympathetic way.

  • And Charlie, with a sigh, looked around at the unsympathetic and hurrying throng.

    The Boy Settlers

    Noah Brooks

  • Your nation is one always in rebellion against its unsympathetic governess.

    The Bondwoman

    Marah Ellis Ryan

British Dictionary definitions for unsympathetic



not characterized by, feeling, or showing sympathy
(when postpositive, often foll by to or towards) not showing agreement (with) or favour (towards)



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 unsympathetic

1823, from un- (1) "not" + sympathetic.



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

unsympathetic in Medicine




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.