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pathetic (adj.)

1590s, "affecting the emotions or affections, moving, stirring" (now obsolete in this broad sense), from 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" (from PIE root *kwent(h)- "to suffer").

The specific meaning "arousing pity, sorrow, or grief" or other tender feelings is from 1737. The colloquial sense of "so miserable as to be ridiculous" is attested by 1937. Related: Pathetical (1570s); pathetically. The pathetic fallacy (1856, first used by Ruskin) is the attribution of human qualities to inanimate objects.

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Definitions of pathetic from WordNet

pathetic (adj.)
deserving or inciting pity; "the shabby room struck her as extraordinarily pathetic"- Galsworthy;
Synonyms: hapless / miserable / misfortunate / piteous / pitiable / pitiful / poor / wretched
pathetic (adj.)
inspiring mixed contempt and pity;
their efforts were pathetic
Synonyms: pitiable / pitiful
pathetic (adj.)
inspiring scornful pity; "how silly an ardent and unsuccessful wooer can be especially if he is getting on in years"- Dashiell Hammett;
Synonyms: ridiculous / silly
From wordnet.princeton.edu