- causing or evoking pity, sympathetic sadness, sorrow, etc.; pitiful; pitiable: a pathetic letter; a pathetic sight.
- affecting or moving the emotions.
- pertaining to or caused by the emotions.
- miserably or contemptibly inadequate: In return for our investment we get a pathetic three percent interest.
- evoking or expressing pity, sympathy, etc
- distressingly inadequatethe old man sat huddled in front of a pathetic fire
- British informal ludicrously or contemptibly uninteresting or worthlessthe standard of goalkeeping in amateur football today is pathetic
- obsolete of or affecting the feelings
- pathetic sentiments
adj.1590s, “affecting the emotions, exciting the passions,” from Middle French pathétique “moving, stirring, affecting” (16c.), from Late Latin patheticus, from Greek pathetikos “subject to feeling, sensitive, capable of emotion,” from pathetos “liable to suffer,” verbal adjective of pathein “to suffer” (see pathos). Meaning “arousing pity, pitiful” is first recorded 1737. Colloquial sense of “so miserable as to be ridiculous” is attested from 1937. Related: Pathetical (1570s); pathetically. Pathetic fallacy (1856, first used by Ruskin) is the attribution of human qualities to inanimate objects.