empathy (n.)

1908, modeled on German Einfühlung (from ein "in" + Fühlung "feeling"), which was coined 1858 by German philosopher Rudolf Lotze (1817-1881) as a translation of Greek empatheia "passion, state of emotion," from assimilated form of en "in" (see en- (2)) + pathos "feeling" (from PIE root *kwent(h)- "to suffer"). A term from a theory of art appreciation that maintains appreciation depends on the viewer's ability to project his personality into the viewed object.

Not only do I see gravity and modesty and pride and courtesy and stateliness, but I feel or act them in the mind's muscles. This is, I suppose, a simple case of empathy, if we may coin that term as a rendering of Einfühlung; there is nothing curious or idiosyncratic about it; but it is a fact that must be mentioned. [Edward Bradford Titchener, "Lectures on the Experimental Psychology of the Thought Processes," 1909]
... there is no doubt that the facts are new and that they justify their name: the art work is a thing of "empathy" (Titchener, Ward), of "fellow feeling" (Mitchell), of "inner sympathy" (Groos), of "sympathetic projection" (Urban), of "semblance of personality" (Baldwin), all terms suggested by different writers as renderings of the German Einfühlung. ["The American Yearbook," 1911]
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empathic (adj.)
1909 [Titchener], from empathy + -ic. Related: Empathically. Treated as a coinage of Titchener's when it appeared in psychological writing; there are dozens of uses of empathic in printed material from the late 19th century but most of these appear to be errors for emphatic.
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empathize (v.)

"understand and share the feelings of another," by 1917, from empathy + -ize. Related: Empathized; empathizing. Earlier appearances of the word in print seem to be an error for emphasize:

Obstetric Therapeutics.—Prof. Smiley will devote attention to this very important branch of the practice of medicine; he will especially empathize the Homoepathic therapeutics so often called for during the period of gestation. [The Medical Advance, Chicago, March 1895]
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empathetic (adj.)

1909, from empathy on model of sympathetic and said to have been originally meant to be distinct from empathic. A 1918 article in The Journal of Abnormal Psychology (vol. XIII) emphatically recommended empathic:

Sympathetic, the adjective, seems to have built up—so philologists say—on the analogy of pathetic: that is, sympathetic ought to be sympathic as indeed in some languages it becomes. And a little of the pathos of pathetic has usually clung to sympathetic. As for empathy, however, the adjective empathic seems to be more suitable than empathetic, if only because the latter would even more damagingly suggest pathos. [E.E. Southard]

Related: Empathetically.

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