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Condole vs. Console: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on March 6, 2024
To condole is to express sympathy for someone's grief, whereas to console is to comfort and alleviate the grief itself.

Key Differences

Condole and console are both responses to grief or misfortune, but they differ in their nature and depth. To condole is to express sympathy, often through words, acknowledging someone’s loss or pain. Console, on the other hand, involves taking steps to alleviate the pain or distress, providing comfort and support beyond mere acknowledgment.
When you condole with someone, you are primarily verbalizing your sympathy, often in formal settings like funerals or sympathy cards. Consoling someone typically involves a more personal and active approach, such as offering a shoulder to cry on or providing words of encouragement. Condoling is about expressing, while consoling is about actively helping to ease the pain.
The act of condoling often involves traditional phrases of sympathy, such as "I'm sorry for your loss." Consoling, however, might involve listening, empathizing, and giving reassurance. Condoling can be seen as a respectful acknowledgment of grief, while consoling is a more intimate and nurturing response.
Condolence is often the first step in responding to someone's grief, a necessary expression of sympathy. Consolation goes a step further, seeking to provide relief and comfort in the face of sorrow. While condoling is a part of the grieving process, consoling aims to aid in the healing process.
Both condoling and consoling are responses to sorrow or grief, condoling is about expressing sympathy, and consoling is about actively providing comfort. Both play important roles in helping someone cope with loss, but they do so in different ways.

Comparison Chart


Express sympathy for someone's grief
Comfort and alleviate someone's grief


Often verbal and formal
More personal and involves active support

Typical Actions

Saying "I'm sorry for your loss"
Providing a shoulder to cry on, listening

Role in Grieving Process

Acknowledging and respecting the grief
Aiding in the healing and comforting

Engagement Level

Primarily through words
Involves emotional and practical support

Condole and Console Definitions


Condole means to express sympathy or sorrow for someone's loss.
She condoled with her friend over the loss of her pet.


Consoling is a personal and empathetic response to someone's pain.
After hearing the bad news, she consoled her roommate by listening to her.


Condole is generally a verbal expression.
During the memorial service, he condoled with those who were mourning.


It can include offering words of encouragement and hope.
He consoled his team after the loss, reminding them of their efforts.


It involves acknowledging someone’s grief.
He condoled with his colleague, understanding his difficult situation.


Console is about actively helping someone to feel better.
To console her child, she read his favorite storybook.


It is a way to show respect for someone's pain or loss.
They sent a card to condole with their neighbor’s recent hardship.


It involves emotional or physical support to alleviate grief.
He consoled his friend with a hug and reassuring words.


Condoling is often a formal expression of sympathy.
At the funeral, many came to condole with the bereaved family.


Console means to provide comfort in sorrow or distress.
She tried to console her sister after her breakup.


To express sympathy or sorrow
I condoled with him in his loss.


To allay the sorrow or grief of (someone).


(intransitive) To express sympathetic sorrow; to lament in sympathy (with someone on something).


(transitive) To condole with (someone).


(transitive) To say in an expression of sympathy.


To lament, grieve, bemoan (something).


To express sympathetic sorrow; to grieve in sympathy; - followed by with.
Your friends would have cause to rejoice, rather than condole with you.


To lament or grieve over.
I come not, Samson, to condole thy chance.


Express one's sympathetic grief, on the occasion of someone's death;
You must condole the widow


What does it mean to condole?

To condole means to express sympathy or sorrow for someone’s grief.

Should I condole or console at a funeral?

At a funeral, it’s appropriate to condole with expressions of sympathy; consoling may also occur depending on your relationship with the bereaved.

How is consoling different from condoling?

Consoling involves actively comforting and supporting someone in distress, while condoling is expressing sympathy.

Is condoling always verbal?

Typically, yes. Condoling usually involves verbal expressions of sympathy.

Can consoling include physical gestures?

Yes, consoling can include physical gestures like hugs or a comforting touch.

What are ways to console someone?

Ways to console someone include listening, offering reassurance, and being physically present.

Does consoling help with grief?

Yes, consoling can help alleviate grief by providing comfort and support.

What should I avoid saying when trying to console someone?

Avoid clichés or making the conversation about yourself; focus on the feelings of the person you’re consoling.

Can I condole with someone over the phone?

Yes, you can condole with someone over the phone by expressing your sympathy.

Should condolence be personal?

Yes, personalizing your condolences can make them more meaningful.

Is it okay to console someone with a gift?

While gifts can be thoughtful, it’s important to ensure they are appropriate and sensitive to the situation.

Is condoling a formal action?

Condoling can be formal, like offering condolences in a card, but it can also be informal.

Are there specific phrases to use when condoling?

Common phrases include "I’m sorry for your loss" or "My thoughts are with you."

Is condoling part of many cultures?

Yes, expressing condolences is a part of mourning rituals in many cultures.

Can I console someone I don’t know well?

Yes, you can offer basic comfort and support even to acquaintances or strangers in distress.

Can consoling involve giving advice?

It can, but it's important to be sensitive and make sure the person is receptive to advice.

Can I condole or console someone via social media?

Yes, both condoling and consoling can be done via social media, but it should be done thoughtfully and respectfully.

Is it appropriate to send flowers to condole?

Yes, sending flowers is a common way to express condolences.

Can condolence be expressed in writing?

Yes, condolence can often be expressed through sympathy cards or letters.

How long should I console someone?

The duration of consoling depends on the situation and the individual's needs; it’s important to be patient and understanding.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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