To pity someone is to feel sorry for that person or group of people. The word "pity" can be used as a verb or as a noun:

  • We all felt pity for the family affected by the crash. (In this sentence, "pity" is a noun.)
  • We all pitied the family affected by the crash. (In this sentence, "pity" is a verb.)
  • Oscar took pity on a lost kitten and gave her a home by adopting her. (The verb "take" is often used with "pity," take pity)
  • Sarah takes pity on homeless people and often gives them money when they ask her for it.
  • There’s no need to pity a billionaire who has lost a few million dollars.

The words "pity" and "sympathy" are similar; however, in some instances, pity is unwelcome:

  • Please don’t give me your pity.
  • Please don’t pity me.
  • I don’t want your pity.
  • No one wants to be pitied.
  • We welcome your sympathy, but not your pity.
  • You’re life is a disaster. I pity you. (To say "I pity you" sounds insulting.)

The word "pitiful" is an adjective. If something is "pitiful," it’s terrible or sad.

  • Jacob says the relationship with his girlfriend has become a pitiful disaster.
  • The way Theresa behaved at the party was pitiful.
  • The average teacher’s salary in the United States is pitiful.
  • A pitiful amount of money is spent on providing help for refugees.

There are a few expressions that use the word "pity."

  • I pity the fool who plays with guns. (pity the fool = to feel sorry for or warn someone)
  • After the loss of the election, the supporters of the losing candidate held a pity party at a nearby bar. (pity party = a gathering of people who feel sorry for each other)

Learn more new words in the Word of the Day section.

November 8, 2018