• IPA: /ˈpɪt.ɪ.fl̩/

pitiful (comparative pitifuller, superlative pitifullest)

  1. (now rare) Feeling pity; merciful.
    • c. 1588–1593, [William Shakespeare], The Most Lamentable Romaine Tragedie of Titus Andronicus: […] (First Quarto), London: Printed by Iohn Danter, and are to be sold by Edward White & Thomas Millington, […], published 1594, OCLC 222241046 ↗, [Act II, scene iii] ↗:
      Some ſay that Rauens foſter forlorne children, / The whilſt their owne birds famiſh in their neſts: / Oh be to me though thy hard hart ſay no, / Nothing ſo kinde but ſomething pittiful.
    • 1851, Herman Melville, Moby-Dick:
      Straightway, he now goes on to make a full confession; whereupon the mariners became more and more appalled, but still are pitiful.
  2. So appalling or sad that one feels or should feel sorry for it; eliciting pity.
    Synonyms: Thesaurus:lamentable
    Scotland has a pitiful climate.
  3. Of an amount or number: very small.
    A pitiful number of students bothered to turn up.


  1. (colloquial, dialect) In a pitiful manner; pitifully; piteously; pathetically.
Related terms Translations Translations
  • Russian: жа́лкий

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