FOWC with Fandango — Empathy

I know almost everyone takes these words and uses them as part of a sentence or story. In this case, empathy is a word that is frequently misused, so I thought I’d point out the difference between “sympathy” and “empathy.”

Definitely empathy

If you are sympathetic, you feel for someone else. You understand the nature of their problems, history, or whatever. You may not be on the same page or ever expect to be, but you feel bad for them. When you are empathetic, you feel with them. You feel like you are, were, or might be on the same page. You can be sympathetic and empathetic at the same time. One doesn’t preclude the other.

I’m pretty sure the Duke is empathetic. I don’t think sympathy is part of his doggy vocabulary.

Categories: #FOWC, Fandango's One Word Challenge, Words

Tags: , , , , ,

18 replies

  1. Great distinctions. I know well trying to explain this to students. How can one really empathize if you’ve never experienced it? Sympathy it is. I’ve had a lot of situations in which I can empathize. And have sympathy for so much, too. Both of those traits really help us connect with one another. I really enjoyed the pictures you chose for this post!


    • There are a lot of words in English where meanings are similar, but not the same. It can be tricky to explain subtle difference. I used to teach technical writing. I learned as much from teaching as the students learned from me. Among many other things, they taught me all the different ways I could be misunderstood.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great explanation of the two words. Makes sense to me, because I’ve met empathetic people and there’s a different vibe than one who is sympathetic, although as you say, the two aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive.


  3. Good explanation Marilyn.


    • It’s one of the niggling things because so many people think they are the same word. They certainly are very similar and in some cases, you can feel both at the same times. Wait until I get into the issue of “less” versus “fewer.” That gets used wrong so many times, often by people (like news anchors) who really ought to know better. I yell at the TV every time it happens.

      ” FEWER! NOT LESS! “

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes, a definite distinction, we’ll defined


  5. Lol. Very good! I love it! ❤


  6. Hmm. In my latest post I wrote, “I, of course, feel empathy for those most impacted by these matters, even though I’m not directly or personally affected at this time.” It appears, as you have differentiated the two words, sympathy and empathy, I may have used the wrong word, since I wrote “empathy for….” Maybe I should have written “empathy with….”


    • Unless it was something for which you are most unlikely to ever experience in which case, it’s sympathy. It’s like men telling women they “empathize” with childbirth. No. They don’t.

      Nor do I empathize with the (apparently) millions of men who suffer the indignity of not being able to get a hard on. Are there REALLY millions of men who can’t get it up? From the volume of advertising about it, one would think it is a life and death matter that affects all men everywhere.

      Liked by 1 person

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