What is the meaning of Compassion?
The meaning of compassion is to recognize the suffering of others and then take action to help. Compassion embodies a tangible expression of love for those who are suffering.
What is the definition of Compassion
The definition of compassion, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is the “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.”
And the New Oxford American Dictionary defines compassion as “a sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.”
Different aspects of compassion’s meaning are emphasized by each dictionary.
Merriam-Webster mentions a “desire to alleviate” the distress of others, whereas the New Oxford American dictionary simply refers to the broad sympathetic feelings associated with compassion. It does not connect those feelings of sympathy and pity to any action or thoughts of action, which is really an incomplete definition.
Compassion vs. emphathy
The Latin root for the word compassion is pati, which means to suffer, and the prefix com- means with. Compassion, originating from compati, literally means to suffer with. The connection of suffering with another person brings compassion beyond sympathy into the realm of empathy. However, compassion is much more than empathy.
Empathy is an ability to relate to another person’s pain as if it’s your own. Empathy, like sympathy, is grounded in emotion and feeling, but empathy doesn’t have an active component to it.
What does it mean to have compassion?
The component of action is what separates compassion from empathy, sympathy, pity, concern, condolence, sensitivity, tenderness, commiseration or any other compassion synonym.
Compassion gets involved. When others keep their distance from those who are suffering, compassion prompts us to act on their behalf. Author Frsedrick Buechner describes what it means to have compassion in this way: