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perception, understanding, and reaction to the distress or need of another human being

Sympathy is a social affinity in which one person stands with another person, closely understanding his or her feelings. It also can mean being affected by feelings or emotions. Thus the essence of sympathy is that one has a strong concern for the other person.


  • There is in souls a sympathy with sounds.
  • Sympathy beyond the confines of man, that is, humanity to the lower animals, seems to be one of the latest moral acquisitions.
    • Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man (1871), Ch. III: Comparison Of The Mental Powers Of Man And The Lower Animals; Concluding Remarks, p. 96.
  • How strange is the lot of us mortals! Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he sometimes thinks he senses it. But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people — first of all for those upon whose smiles and well-being our own happiness is wholly dependent, and then for the many, unknown to us, to whose destinies we are bound by the ties of sympathy...
  • He watch'd and wept, he pray'd and felt for all.
  • For thou hast given me in this beauteous face,
    A world of earthly blessings to my soul,
    If sympathy of love unite our thoughts.
  • I ask Thee for a thankful love,
    Through constant watching wise,
    To meet the glad with joyful smiles,
    And to wipe the weeping eyes,
    And a heart at leisure from itself,
    To soothe and sympathize.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical QuotationsEdit

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 775-76.
  • Strengthen me by sympathizing with my strength not my weakness.
  • Pity and need
    Make all flesh kin. There is no caste in blood.
  • But there is one thing which we are responsible for, and that is for our sympathies, for the manner in which we regard it, and for the tone in which we discuss it. What shall we say, then, with regard to it? On which side shall we stand?
    • John Bright, Speech on Slavery and Secession (Feb. 3, 1863).
  • In the desert a fountain is springing,
    In the wide waste there still is a tree,
    And a bird in the solitude singing,
    Which speaks to my spirit of thee.
  • Of a truth, men are mystically united: a mystic bond of brotherhood makes all men one.
  • Jobling, there are chords in the human mind.
  • Our souls sit close and silently within,
    And their own web from their own entrails spin;
    And when eyes meet far off, our sense is such,
    That, spider like, we feel the tenderest touch.
  • The secrets of life are not shown except to sympathy and likeness.
  • The man who melts
    With social sympathy, though not allied,
    Is of more worth than a thousand kinsmen.
  • The craving for sympathy is the common boundary-line between joy and sorrow.
    • J. C. and A. W. Hare, Guesses at Truth.
  • We pine for kindred natures
    To mingle with our own.
  • Yet, taught by time, my heart has learned to glow
    For other's good, and melt at other's woe.
    • Homer, The Odyssey, Book XVIII, line 269. Pope's translation.
  • Bowels of compassion.
    • I John, III. 17.
  • World-wide apart, and yet akin,
    As showing that the human heart
    Beats on forever as of old.
  • For I no sooner in my heart divin'd,
    My heart, which by a secret harmony
    Still moves with thine, joined in connection sweet.
  • Never elated while one man's oppress'd;
    Never dejected while another's blessed.
  • Somewhere or other there must surely be
    The face not seen, the voice not heard,
    The heart that not yet—never yet—ah me!
    Made answer to my word.
  • If thou art something bring thy soul and interchange with mine.
  • It [true love] is the secret sympathy,
    The silver link, the silken tie,
    Which heart to heart, and mind to mind
    In body and in soul can bind.
    • Walter Scott, The Lay of the Last Minstrel (1805), Canto V, Stanza 13.

Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)Edit

Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).
  • We often do more good by our sympathy than by our labors. A man may lose position, influence, wealth, and even health, and yet live on in comfqrt, if with resignation; but there is one thing without which life becomes a burden—that is human sympathy.
  • The capacity of sorrow belongs to our grandeur, and the loftiest of our race are those who have had the profoundest sympathies, because they have had the profoundest sorrows.
  • Certain it is, that as nothing can better do it; so there is nothing greater, for which God made our tongues, next to reciting His praises, than to minister comfort to a weary soul.
  • There is poetry and there is beauty in real sympathy; but there is more — there is action. The noblest and most powerful form of sympathy is not merely the responsive tear, the echoed sigh, the answering look; it is the embodiment of the sentiment in actual help.

See alsoEdit

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