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Sympathy vs. Condolence: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 26, 2023
Sympathy is the feeling of pity or sorrow for someone's misfortune, while condolence is the expression of sympathy, often in the context of a death.
Sympathy vs. Condolence

Key Differences

Sympathy involves feelings of compassion and empathy for another's situation. Condolence is the act of expressing these feelings, often in the form of a message or gesture.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023
Sympathy can be felt in various situations of sorrow or hardship. Condolences, however, are typically expressed specifically in response to someone's death.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023
Feeling sympathy can be a private, internal emotion. Offering condolences is an external, social action, communicating sympathy to others.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023
Sympathy doesn't necessarily need to be expressed; it can be a silent, empathetic understanding. Condolences are usually conveyed through words, cards, or gestures.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023
Sympathy can be a lasting emotion, felt over time. Condolences are often given soon after the event causing sorrow, especially in the case of a death.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Nature

An emotion of compassion
An expression of sympathy
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Dec 26, 2023

Context

Broad, for various hardships
Typically for mourning a death
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Expression

Can be silent or expressed
Expressed through words or actions
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Communication

Internal feeling
External communication
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Timing

Can be ongoing
Often given shortly after a specific event
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Dec 26, 2023
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Sympathy and Condolence Definitions

Sympathy

An understanding of another's feelings.
He felt sympathy for his friend's struggle with illness.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Condolence

A message conveying sympathy in sorrow.
She received numerous condolences from friends after her father passed away.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Sympathy

A shared feeling of grief or sorrow.
The community's sympathy for the victims was overwhelming.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Condolence

A gesture of comfort to someone grieving.
His words of condolence at the funeral were deeply appreciated.
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Dec 26, 2023

Sympathy

Empathy or compassion for another's situation.
His sympathy for the homeless led him to volunteer at the shelter.
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Dec 26, 2023
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Condolence

An expression of sympathy, especially for a death.
They sent a card of condolence to their neighbor who had lost her husband.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Sympathy

Feeling compassion for someone's misfortune.
Her sympathy for the family's loss was evident in her kind words.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Condolence

Comfort offered to someone in mourning.
The condolence bouquet reflected their sincere sympathies.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Sympathy

A feeling of pity or sorrow for the distress of another; commiseration.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Condolence

An act of expressing sorrow for someone's loss.
The community sent letters of condolence to the bereaved family.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Sympathy

Often sympathies An expression of such feeling
Offered her sympathies to the mourning family.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Condolence

Sympathy with a person who has experienced pain, grief, or misfortune
Paid a visit of condolence to the grieving family.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Sympathy

Mutual understanding or feeling between people
"Like two frightened children, we sought at the same time to comfort one another, so quick was the sympathy between us" (Nicholas Meyer).
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Condolence

Often condolences An expression or declaration of such sympathy.
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Oct 19, 2023

Sympathy

Agreement with or support for an opinion or position
The mayor is in sympathy with the proposal.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Condolence

(uncountable) Comfort, support or sympathy.
There was not much to do after the accident but offer what condolence I could.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Sympathy

Often sympathies A tendency to support a position or opinion
A politician of conservative sympathies.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Condolence

An expression of comfort, support, or sympathy offered to the family and friends of somebody who has died.
I sent her a card expressing my condolences after her mother passed away.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Sympathy

A relationship or affinity between things in which whatever affects one correspondingly affects the other
"Continuous measurements of ionospheric densities ... showed a variation of noon ionization in sympathy with sunspot activity" (E.V. Appelton).
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Condolence

Expression of sympathy with another in sorrow or grief.
Their congratulations and their condolences.
A special mission of condolence.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Sympathy

(Physics) A relation between bodies such that vibrations in one body cause sympathetic vibrations in another.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Condolence

An expression of sympathy with another's grief;
They sent their condolences
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Sympathy

(Physiology) A relation between parts or organs by which a disease or disorder in one induces an effect in the other.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Sympathy

A feeling of pity or sorrow for the suffering or distress of another.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Sympathy

(in plural) The formal expression of pity or sorrow for someone else's misfortune.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Sympathy

The ability to share the feelings of another.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Sympathy

Inclination to think or feel alike; emotional or intellectual accord; common feeling.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Sympathy

(in plural) Support in the form of shared feelings or opinions.
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Oct 19, 2023

Sympathy

Feeling of loyalty; tendency towards, agreement with or approval of an opinion or aim; a favorable attitude.
Many people in Hollywood were blacklisted merely because they were suspected of Communist sympathies.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Sympathy

An affinity, association or mutual relationship between people or things such that they are correspondingly affected by any condition.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Sympathy

Mutual or parallel susceptibility or a condition brought about by it.
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Oct 19, 2023

Sympathy

(art) Artistic harmony, as of shape or colour in a painting.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Sympathy

Feeling corresponding to that which another feels; the quality of being affected by the affection of another, with feelings correspondent in kind, if not in degree; fellow-feeling.
They saw, but other sight instead - a crowdOf ugly serpents! Horror on them fell,And horrid sympathy.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Sympathy

An agreement of affections or inclinations, or a conformity of natural temperament, which causes persons to be pleased, or in accord, with one another; as, there is perfect sympathy between them.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Sympathy

Kindness of feeling toward one who suffers; pity; commiseration; compassion.
I value myself upon sympathy, I hate and despise myself for envy.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Sympathy

The reciprocal influence exercised by organs or parts on one another, as shown in the effects of a diseased condition of one part on another part or organ, as in the vomiting produced by a tumor of the brain.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Sympathy

A tendency of inanimate things to unite, or to act on each other; as, the sympathy between the loadstone and iron.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Sympathy

Similarity of function, use office, or the like.
The adverb has most sympathy with the verb.
Fault,Acknowledged and deplored, in Adam wroughtCommiseration.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Sympathy

An inclination to support or be loyal to or to agree with an opinion;
His sympathies were always with the underdog
I knew I could count on his understanding
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Sympathy

Sharing the feelings of others (especially feelings of sorrow or anguish)
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Sympathy

A relation of affinity or harmony between people; whatever affects one correspondingly affects the other;
The two of them were in close sympathy
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Sympathy

Emotional support for someone in distress.
She offered her sympathy during his difficult time.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Repeatedly Asked Queries

Are condolences only for deaths?

Primarily, yes. Condolences are mostly expressed in the context of death.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Can sympathy lead to action?

Absolutely, sympathy often motivates acts of kindness or support.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Is sympathy a form of empathy?

Yes, it's a type of empathy where one shares in another's feelings.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Should condolences be immediate?

It's customary to offer condolences soon after learning of the death.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Is sympathy always positive?

Yes, it's a compassionate and empathetic emotion.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Do cultural differences affect condolences?

Yes, expressions of condolence can vary significantly across cultures.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Can sympathy be expressed without words?

Yes, sympathy can be a silent emotional understanding.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Can sympathy exist without personal experience?

Yes, one can feel sympathy without having experienced the same situation.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Is it possible to feel too much sympathy?

Excessive sympathy can lead to emotional burnout or over-involvement.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Is there a protocol for offering condolences?

While there are common practices, the most important aspect is sincerity.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Are verbal condolences more meaningful?

The sincerity behind the expression matters more than the form.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Can sympathy lead to charitable acts?

Often, sympathy inspires people to help those in difficult situations.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Can condolences be misinterpreted?

Sometimes, if not expressed thoughtfully, they can be seen as insincere.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Is it okay to feel sympathy for oneself?

Self-compassion is a form of sympathy and is healthy in moderation.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Can sympathy change over time?

Yes, the intensity and focus of sympathy can evolve.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Can children understand condolences?

Yes, but their comprehension depends on their age and maturity.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Is it necessary to respond to condolences?

A response is not mandatory, but acknowledging received condolences can be comforting.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Are electronic condolences appropriate?

They can be, depending on the relationship and circumstances.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Should sympathy always be expressed?

Not always; sometimes, respecting privacy is more appropriate.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Are written condolences common?

Yes, written messages are a common and respectful way to express condolences.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

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Shumaila Saeed
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Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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