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 Dictionary entry overview: What does pitiful mean? 

PITIFUL (adjective)
  The adjective PITIFUL has 3 senses:

1. inspiring mixed contempt and pity
2. bad; unfortunate
3. deserving or inciting pity

  Familiarity information: PITIFUL used as an adjective is uncommon.

 Dictionary entry details 

PITIFUL (adjective)

Sense 1pitiful [BACK TO TOP]


Inspiring mixed contempt and pity


pitiable; pitiful; pathetic

Context examples:

their efforts were pathetic / pitiable lack of character / pitiful exhibition of cowardice


contemptible (deserving of contempt or scorn)

Sense 2pitiful [BACK TO TOP]


Bad; unfortunate


deplorable; lamentable; distressing; pitiful; sad; sorry

Context examples:

my finances were in a deplorable state / a lamentable decision / her clothes were in sad shape / a sorry state of affairs


bad (having undesirable or negative qualities)

Sense 3pitiful [BACK TO TOP]


Deserving or inciting pity


piteous; pathetic; misfortunate; hapless; poor; miserable; pitiable; pitiful; wretched

Context examples:

a hapless victim / miserable victims of war / the shabby room struck her as extraordinarily pathetic / piteous appeals for help / pitiable homeless children / a pitiful fate / Oh, you poor thing / his poor distorted limbs / a wretched life


unfortunate (not favored by fortune; marked or accompanied by or resulting in ill fortune)

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