Pathos vs Compassion - What's the difference?

pathos | compassion |

As nouns the difference between pathos and compassion

is that pathos is pathos while compassion is deep awareness of the suffering of another, coupled with the wish to relieve it.

As a verb compassion is

(obsolete) to pity.




  • The quality or property of anything which touches the feelings or excites emotions and passions, especially that which awakens tender emotions, such as pity, sorrow, and the like; contagious warmth of feeling, action, or expression; pathetic quality.
  • * 1874 , Thomas Hardy, Far From The Madding Crowd, 1874:
  • His voice had a genuine pathos now, and his large brown hands perceptibly trembled.
  • (rhetoric) A writer or speaker's attempt to persuade an audience through appeals involving the use of strong emotions such as pity.
  • (literature) An author's attempt to evoke a feeling of pity or sympathetic sorrow for a character.
  • (theology, philosophy) In theology and existentialist ethics following Kierkegaard and Heidegger, a deep and abiding commitment of the heart, as in the notion of "finding your passion" as an important aspect of a fully lived, engaged life.
  • Anagrams

    * ----




  • Deep awareness of the suffering of another, coupled with the wish to relieve it
  • * 1849 , Robert Leighton (Archbishop of Glasgow), A practical commentary upon the first Epistle of St. Peter (page 47)
  • Oh! the unspeakable privilege to have Him for our Father, who is the Father of mercies and compassions , and those not barren, fruitless pityings, for He is withal the God of all consolations.


    * empathy, pity, ruth, tenderheartedness, sorrow * kindness, heart, mercy

    Derived terms

    * compassionate * compassion fatigue


    (en verb)
  • (obsolete) To pity.
  • * 1607 , , IV. i. 124:
  • O heavens, can you hear a good man groan / And not relent, or not compassion him?