sympathetic (adj.)

1640s, "pertaining to sympathy," from Modern Latin sympatheticus, from late Greek sympathetikos "having sympathy," from sympathein, from sympathes "having a fellow feeling, affected by like feelings" (see sympathy). In English, the meaning "having fellow feeling, susceptible to altruistic feelings" is recorded from 1718.

In the anatomical sense, "subject to a common nervous influence," the word is attested from 1769, from Modern Latin (nervus) sympathicus, coined by Jacques-Benigne Winslow (1669-1760), Danish anatomist living in Paris. Related: Sympathetical (1630s); Sympathetically (1620s).

updated on January 07, 2014

Definitions of sympathetic from WordNet

sympathetic (adj.)
of or relating to the sympathetic nervous system;
sympathetic neurons
sympathetic stimulation
sympathetic (adj.)
expressing or feeling or resulting from sympathy or compassion or friendly fellow feelings; disposed toward;
sympathetic to the students' cause
a sympathetic observer
a sympathetic gesture
sympathetic (adj.)
showing or motivated by sympathy and understanding and generosity;
sympathetic words
Synonyms: charitable / benevolent / kindly / good-hearted / openhearted / large-hearted
sympathetic (adj.)
(of characters in literature or drama) evoking empathic or sympathetic feelings;
the sympathetic characters in the play
Synonyms: appealing / likeable / likable
sympathetic (adj.)
having similar disposition and tastes;
with their many similar tastes, he found her a most sympathetic companion
sympathetic (adj.)
relating to vibrations that occur as a result of vibrations in a nearby body;
sympathetic vibration
Synonyms: harmonic
Etymologies are not definitions. From, not affiliated with etymonline.