sympathetic Meaning, Definition & Usage

  1. adjective of or relating to the sympathetic nervous system
    • sympathetic neurons
    • sympathetic stimulation
  2. adjective expressing or feeling or resulting from sympathy or compassion or friendly fellow feelings; disposed toward
    • sympathetic to the students' cause
    • a sympathetic observer
    • a sympathetic gesture
  3. adjective satellite showing or motivated by sympathy and understanding and generosity
    kindly; benevolent; large-hearted; charitable; good-hearted; openhearted.
    • was charitable in his opinions of others
    • kindly criticism
    • a kindly act
    • sympathetic words
    • a large-hearted mentor
  4. adjective (of characters in literature or drama) evoking empathic or sympathetic feelings
    appealing; likable; likeable.
    • the sympathetic characters in the play
  5. adjective satellite having similar disposition and tastes
    • with their many similar tastes, he found her a most sympathetic companion
  6. adjective satellite relating to vibrations that occur as a result of vibrations in a nearby body
    • sympathetic vibration


Sym`pa*thet"ic adjective
See Sympathy, and cf. Pathetic.
  1. Inclined to sympathy; sympathizing.
    Far wiser he, whose sympathetic mind Exults in all the good of all mankind. Goldsmith.
  2. Produced by, or expressive of, sympathy.
    Ope the sacred source of sympathetic tears. Gray.
  3. (Physiol.) (a) Produced by sympathy; -- applied particularly to symptoms or affections. See Sympathy. (b) Of or relating to the sympathetic nervous system or some of its branches; produced by stimulation on the sympathetic nervious system or some part of it; as, the sympathetic saliva, a modified form of saliva, produced from some of the salivary glands by stimulation of a sympathetic nerve fiber.

Webster 1913