Pathetic vs apathetic

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Pathetic and apathetic are two words that are close in spelling and pronunciation, but have different meanings. We will examine the definitions of the words pathetic and apathetic, where these terms came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Pathetic describes someone or something that is weak, inadequate, helpless. Pathetic may describe a person who arouses sympathy, or it may describe a person who inspires anger or impatience. The adverb form is pathetically. The word pathetic is derived from the Greek word pathetikos, which means emotional or sensitive.

Apathetic describes someone or something without enthusiasm, someone lacking interest or emotion. Apathetic may describe someone who does not care about certain things in life, and may be a sign of cynicism or depression. Related words are apathy and apathetically. The word apathetic is derived from the Greek word apatheia, which means without suffering or sensation. Apathetic is not an antonym of pathetic.


“The second demand or expectation was that the current pathetic on-call allowance paid to doctors at $360 per month must be urgently revised upwards to $720 per month as per the 2014 agreement,” the minister said. (New Zimbabwe)

Niwa climate scientist and project leader Dr Andrew Lorrey said he expected this year’s survey to reveal some “pretty pathetic” glaciers. (The Otago Daily Times)

So it’s a mistake when older generations shake their fists at kids these days and dismiss them as lazy or ignorant or apathetic about politics, civic engagement advocates say. (The Toronto Star)

At a time when citizens are apathetic and when our election system is under attack from a foreign adversary, it is essential for Americans to bolster the integrity of how we choose officials to make and defend our laws and policies. (The Lewiston MOrning Tribune)