Empathise or empathize

Empathize Definition & Meaning - Merriam-Webster

em·​pa·​thize ˈem-pə-ˌthīz 

intransitive verb

: to experience empathy

empathized with his son's fears




Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Party-planning éminence grise Bronson van Wyck—who has decorated trees with extravagant themes, ranging from Noah’s ark to Salvador Dalí, for tastemakers including Lauren Santo Domingo—can empathize. —Anna Fixsen, ELLE Decor, 14 Dec. 2022 That is not the way anybody uses a dating app, so, again, what was there to do but empathize? —Kaitlyn Tiffany, The Atlantic, 11 Dec. 2022 Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow can empathize with Tannehill on those throws. —Mohammad Ahmad, cleveland, 27 Nov. 2022 The air of condemnation that sometimes greets her at school, by girls who cannot understand let alone empathize with her plight (the kind Saima suggests Dalva ignore altogether), stands in direct contrast with Nicot’s interest in telling her story. —Manuel Betancourt, Variety, 22 Nov. 2022 Then there are women in the mold of designer Aurora James—who choose not just to acknowledge, speak out and empathize but to do something about it which is the vastly harder choice. —Ariana Yaptangco, Glamour, 1 Nov. 2022 To understand, to be able to meet somebody else in pain, to learn and empathize, was an extraordinary thing. —Amanda Petrusich, The New Yorker, 30 Oct. 2022 Preview Don’t expect Auburn players to empathize with concerns expressed this week about No. 2 Georgia’s sudden dip from championship form. —Creg Stephenson | [email protected], al, 8 Oct. 2022 Woodhouse, the third-generation Yuma farmer now lobbying to keep his district's share, can empathize. —Brandon Loomis, AZCentral.com, 20 Nov. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'empathize. ' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

circa 1916, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler

The first known use of empathize was circa 1916

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Cite this Entry



“Empathize.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www. merriam-webster.com/dictionary/empathize. Accessed 31 Dec. 2022.

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Medical Definition


intransitive verb


: to experience empathy

adults unable to empathize with a child's frustrations

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Merriam-Webster unabridged

Empathize or Empathise? Correct Spelling (UK vs.


You have probably seen two spellings of the word “empathise”, one with a “z” and one with an “s.” This article examines if there is any difference between them and shows which is used the most in global English.

Empathize or Empathise – Which Spelling Is Correct?

Both “empathise” and “empathize” are correct spelling versions. Although there may be some variation and crossover between their use, “empathise” is listed in the dictionary as the UK and Australian English spelling version, whilst “empathize” is listed as the US and Canadian version.

The word “empathise” relates to understanding and caring about how other people feel. The Cambridge Dictionary contains both versions of the spelling and states that “empathise” is the UK version. However, the fact that it automatically defaults to “empathize” indicates that, similarly to many other words, the US spelling has become more widespread.

The two words are synonyms, but if you start writing with one spelling version, you should stick to that version throughout the text.

Here are some examples of “empathise” in a sentence:

  1. I really cannot empathise with Gary for losing his license because he shouldn’t have been drinking and driving.
  2. I empathise with ordinary civilians who are caught up in armed conflict through no fault of their own.
  3. Some people empathise more with animals than people because they feel animals don’t have a choice.
  4. Whilst many people empathise with environmental activists, others are angry at the disruption they cause.
  5. We should try to empathise with badly-behaved children rather than telling them off.

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Empathize or Empathise in the UK?

The Cambridge Dictionary lists “empathise” as a common UK spelling; however, the fact that it defaults straight to the “z” version indicates that “empathize” is actually the preferred spelling.

This prediction is reinforced by the Google Ngram for British English, which shows that “empathize” has actually been more popular than “empathise” in the UK since the 1950s. Furthermore, in the last 20 years, the difference between “empathise” and “empathize” has grown larger.

Therefore, either version of the spelling would be acceptable in the UK, although you should be consistent with your spelling choice throughout the text.

Empathize or Empathise in the US?

When there is a choice between “ize” and “ise”, more often than not, the “ize” is the US version of the spelling and “empathize” is no exception to this rule.

The Google Ngram for American English shows that predictably “empathize” has always been more common in the US than “empathise”. However, the use of “empathise” has risen slightly in the last twenty years.

Empathize or Empathise in Canada?

The preferred spelling in Canadian English is “empathize”, which makes sense considering that Canadian English mostly follows US spelling rules.

A Google search for Canadian web pages containing the terms shows that “empathize” is more common in Canada, although you may find the odd person who uses the British version.

Empathize or Empathise in Australia

The Australian English Dictionary states that the correct spelling is “empathise”, which makes sense because they generally use British spelling in Australia.

Although in the UK, the spelling “empathize” is more common than “emphasise”, very often, Australian English does not change from the original UK spelling to the “z” version, even when the UK does.

Therefore, if you are writing in Australian English, the preferred spelling version is “emphasise.

Empathize or Empathise in Other Countries?

The Google Ngram for global use shows that pre-1950, neither word was at all common. But then, post-1950, the spelling “emphasize” began to increase, whereas “empathise” did not see any real growth until the 1980s.

Therefore, in terms of global English, “empathize” is the standard and common version, but “empathise” is also used in many parts of the world.

Final Thoughts

The two spellings “empathise” and “empathize” are acceptable and used worldwide. However, “empathize” is more commonly found in the US, Canada, and the UK, whilst the listed UK spelling “empathise” is most widely found in Australia than “empathize.”

Empathy - Psychologos

Film "Legally Blonde"

Film "Jeeves and Wooster"

In a difficult situation, sincere empathy is a form of support for another

This is also empathy and feelings of one's own

, shared experience.

Empathy is often identified with compassion. This is not entirely true. Empathy is both Compassion, and CO-satisfaction, CO-high, CO-envy, CO-Angry... All this is CO-empathy. Then each chooses what he will experience with the other person. However, most often they empathize in case of troubles and misfortunes, and usually this is immersing oneself in the troubles of another. Such compassion gives a feeling of closeness, support, gives a person in a mentally difficult situation the opportunity to speak out with confidence that they will understand you. Empathy is most often expressed as compassion, and like compassion, it comes in many forms. Stefan Zweig in Impatience of the Heart writes: nine0003

"... There are two kinds of compassion. One is cowardly and sentimental, it is, in essence, nothing more than the impatience of the heart, in a hurry to get rid of the painful feeling at the sight of someone else's misfortune; this is not compassion, but only an instinctive desire to protect but there is another compassion - true, which requires action, not sentiment, it knows what it wants, and is determined, suffering and compassionate, to do everything that is in human strength and even beyond them. nine0003

When empathy is given, it is usually pleasant. When empathy is demanded, it usually provokes protest. Empathy is not the same as "I'm worried about you" or "I'll be worried about you", "I'm worried about how your exam will go!". Experience FOR - this is my separate experience on a topic close to you. Or - your separate experience on a topic close to me. Experience FOR many men is perceived negatively: "There is no need to worry about me!". The usual reason for this is the need to pay for these experiences. nine0003

Typical male response: "They tell me -" I worry about you "and I begin to feel an additional burden. This is an additional job offered to me - to save a loved one from worries."

Empathy is a property of kind and sympathetic people, but it is not the best reaction to the state of another person. In empathy, a person merges into the experience of another person, losing control and management, floating in the general stream of feelings of another person. He agrees with other people, wants the same as the other person. When responding to the state of another person, it is more appropriate to practice empathy. During empathy, a person feels, feels the state of another person, but leaves control over himself. He feels his state, but retains the ability to distance himself from him, to have his own attitude to this, to object and push to other desires and decisions. See → nine0003

Another interesting way to intelligently respond to the state of another person is anticipatory empathy, as a way to improve a person's state of mind, to rebuild it from the state of "problem" to "task being solved." The essence of this method is as follows - further the author's presentation (This method was proposed by a psychologist working in the field of elite sports, R.M. Zagainov):

"You go to a person who is ill, and you go ... for help! not easy and, above all, because your very arrival is already an act of condolence, which an ambitious athlete does not need. But a psychologist is obliged to go to a person at such a moment! you do not see this (and how difficult it is!) and immediately (precisely - immediately!) confidently and with hope in your voice you say not at all what he expects, but - for example: "Seryozha, I need to consult with you." nine0003

I always saw in response surprise in the eyes of a person who thinks at such a moment about anything, but not about the fact that he himself can help someone else. In such a purposeful psychotherapeutic conversation, the task is to go beyond “advice”, to prolong the conversation, to which the patient (let’s call it that) usually does not object, then to move from “advice” to a presentation not of his, but of his own problem, if necessary, to invent it (! ), and maybe complain about what happened” and about fate, and thus get on the same emotional wavelength with the patient, and now with your psychologist at the same time (!). Experience has shown that the method provided a 100% hit, solved the problem. The person calmed down, came to his senses, transformed before our eyes! The empathy was truly anticipatory!" nine0003


The inclination and ability to empathize is measured, in particular, by the method "Emotional Response Scale" by A. Megrabyan and N. Epstein.

Can cats and dogs empathize with a person

Sometimes it seems that a cat or dog knows exactly when they need to snuggle or hug their person. But is the pet really aware of these emotional moments? Or, in other words, do dogs or cats feel a person?

A pet can climb onto a lap or lick in the face, just to name a few examples of the many ways a furry friend can show an owner that they are attuned to their emotions. There is no denying that cats and dogs communicate with their human families on an emotional level. But are cats capable of empathy? What about dogs? nine0003

What is empathy

Empathy refers to the ability to perceive the emotions of another being and to identify with him, for example, to share sadness or joy. Empathy can take the form of tears when a person sees someone crying, or a smile when someone smiles.

Are dogs capable of empathy

In a study of empathy in dogs, published in the journal Animal Cognition, scientists studied the phenomenon of emotional contagion in dogs. Emotional contagion is defined as capturing the emotions of others. The study found that dogs react differently to sounds of negative emotions, such as crying, and to sounds of positive emotions, such as laughter. This means that four-legged friends are able to mirror a person's emotional behavior, which is pretty amazing in itself. nine0003

Another Animal Cognition study showed that pets show empathy even towards strangers who pretend to cry. Instead of running away from strangers they thought were upset, the dogs rubbed their faces against them and even licked them. However, the researchers who conducted the study interpreted this behavior as an example of emotional contagion, and also as a consequence of receiving rewards for such actions in the past.

Can dogs empathize with humans? There is evidence that the behavior of the dog changes under the influence of the emotions of the owner. For example, if he is afraid of the sound of thunder, the four-legged friend can recognize this fear and interpret these sounds as something to be afraid of. Then he will begin to tremble or hide when a thunderstorm approaches. If the dog picks up the owner's emotions, it will help the latter in training.

Are cats capable of empathy?

This question is a little more difficult to answer because, although cats were domesticated nearly 12,000 years ago, they are still more independent than dogs. Little research has been done on empathy and emotion in these enigmatic creatures, but things are starting to change. nine0003

BBC Earth , citing several studies, notes that although cats can learn to read their owners' facial expressions, this does not necessarily mean that they are capable of empathy. Most likely, furry pets have simply learned to associate the positive emotions of family members with rewards.

But, despite the lack of empathy that can be assessed, cats still know how to capture the nuances of human emotions. It's just that their reactions are not always noticeable. Sometimes it's all about the ability to understand cat body language .

Do cats feel human pain? Sometimes cats in an emotionally tense situation approach the owner and lie down at his side. From touching the face with a paw to slowly blinking , which means "I love you", the feline friend subtly shows his affection in many ways. Empathy is a human skill. However, there is no doubt that a furry friend will be next to the owner in sadness, in joy, and in everything in between. nine0003

Christine O'Brien

Christine O'Brien is a writer, mother, and longtime owner of two Russian Blue cats who are the head of the household. Her articles can also be found on Care.com, What to Expect and Fit Pregnancy, where she writes about family life, pets and pregnancy.

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