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Pitiful vs. Mournful: What's the Difference?

Edited by Sumera Saeed || By Sawaira Riaz || Updated on September 26, 2023
Pitiful means deserving pity or contemptibly inadequate, while mournful means expressing sorrow or grief.

Key Differences

Pitiful often refers to something or someone that evokes a sense of sympathy or pity because of their sad or pathetic state. Mournful, on the other hand, primarily relates to expressions of sorrow or deep sadness. Both words convey a sense of unhappiness, but from different perspectives.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023
When we say something is pitiful, it can suggest that the object or individual in question is so inadequate or inferior that it elicits pity. In contrast, when we describe something as mournful, it communicates a deep, heavy sorrow, often associated with loss.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023
It's worth noting that pitiful can also be used in a more derogatory sense, implying something is so poor in quality that it's laughable or contemptible. Mournful retains a more solemn tone, consistently linking to grief or sorrow.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023
Someone might have a pitiful appearance because of tattered clothing or a frail physique, drawing sympathy from onlookers. A mournful song, meanwhile, will evoke feelings of melancholy and reflect on grief or loss.
Harlon Moss
Sep 26, 2023
In essence, while both words hint at negative emotions or states, pitiful gravitates towards feelings of pity (either sympathetic or contemptuous), and mournful leans into the realm of sorrow or grief.
Sara Rehman
Sep 26, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Primary Emotion

Elicits pity
Expresses sorrow
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023

Tone

Can be sympathetic or contemptuous
Solemn and heavy
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023

Associated Feelings

Inadequacy, inferiority
Grief, melancholy
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023

Usage Context

Referring to someone/something deserving pity or contempt
Referring to expressions of sorrow or sadness
Harlon Moss
Sep 26, 2023

Example

A pitiful attempt at a joke
A mournful melody
Harlon Moss
Sep 26, 2023
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Pitiful and Mournful Definitions

Pitiful

Contemptibly inadequate.
It was a pitiful performance by the team.
Sara Rehman
Sep 26, 2023

Mournful

Expressing sorrow.
She had a mournful look in her eyes.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023

Pitiful

Deserving of pity.
His pitiful cries touched her heart.
Aimie Carlson
Sep 26, 2023

Mournful

Melancholy in sound or appearance.
The mournful howling of the wind kept her awake.
Aimie Carlson
Sep 26, 2023

Pitiful

Evoking mockery or disdain.
Your efforts to insult me are simply pitiful.
Harlon Moss
Sep 26, 2023

Mournful

Sad or melancholic.
The movie's mournful theme left the audience in tears.
Aimie Carlson
Sep 26, 2023

Pitiful

Very small or poor.
He earned a pitiful amount this month.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023

Mournful

Indicative of mourning.
The town had a mournful silence after the incident.
Sara Rehman
Sep 26, 2023

Pitiful

Inspiring or deserving pity.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 25, 2023

Mournful

Reflecting sorrow or grief.
He sang a mournful ballad about lost love.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023

Pitiful

Arousing contemptuous pity, as through ineptitude or inadequacy.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 25, 2023

Mournful

Feeling or expressing sorrow or grief; sorrowful.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 25, 2023

Pitiful

(Archaic) Filled with pity or compassion.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 25, 2023

Mournful

Causing or suggesting sadness or melancholy
The mournful sound of a train whistle.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 25, 2023

Pitiful

Feeling pity; merciful.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 25, 2023

Mournful

Filled with grief or sadness; being in a state in which one mourns.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 25, 2023

Pitiful

So appalling or sad that one feels or should feel sorry for it; eliciting pity.
Scotland has a pitiful climate.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 25, 2023

Mournful

Fit to inspire mourning; tragic.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 25, 2023

Pitiful

Of an amount or number: very small.
A pitiful number of students bothered to turn up.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 25, 2023

Mournful

Full of sorrow; expressing, or intended to express, sorrow; mourning; grieving; sad; also, causing sorrow; saddening; grievous; as, a mournful person; mournful looks, tones, loss.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 25, 2023

Pitiful

In a pitiful manner; pitifully; piteously; pathetically.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 25, 2023

Mournful

Expressing sorrow
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 25, 2023

Pitiful

Full of pity; tender-hearted; compassionate; kind; merciful; sympathetic.
The Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 25, 2023

Mournful

Filled with or evoking sadness;
The child's doleful expression
Stared with mournful eyes
Mournful news
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 25, 2023

Pitiful

Piteous; lamentable; eliciting compassion.
A thing, indeed, very pitiful and horrible.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 25, 2023

Pitiful

To be pitied for littleness or meanness; miserable; paltry; contemptible; despicable.
That's villainous, and shows a most pitiful ambition in the fool that uses it.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 25, 2023

Pitiful

Inspiring mixed contempt and pity;
Their efforts were pathetic
Pitiable lack of character
Pitiful exhibition of cowardice
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 25, 2023

Pitiful

Bad; unfortunate;
My finances were in a deplorable state
A lamentable decision
Her clothes were in sad shape
A sorry state of affairs
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 25, 2023

Pitiful

Deserving or inciting pity;
A hapless victim
Miserable victims of war
The shabby room struck her as extraordinarily pathetic
Piteous appeals for help
Pitiable homeless children
A pitiful fate
Oh, you poor thing
His poor distorted limbs
A wretched life
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 25, 2023

Pitiful

Evoking compassion.
The pitiful sight of the stray dog made her donate to the shelter.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023

FAQs

What is the primary emotion associated with the word "pitiful"?

The primary emotion associated with "pitiful" is pity.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023

Can "pitiful" have a negative connotation?

Yes, "pitiful" can be used to describe something contemptibly inadequate.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023

Can "pitiful" and "mournful" be used interchangeably?

No, while both convey negative emotions, they have different nuances and uses.
Aimie Carlson
Sep 26, 2023

Can a song be described as "mournful"?

Yes, if it has a melancholic or sorrowful tone.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023

Can "pitiful" imply a sense of mockery?

Yes, it can evoke mockery or disdain in some contexts.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023

What's the primary emotion linked with "mournful"?

"Mournful" primarily expresses sorrow or grief.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023

Can "pitiful" be used in a sympathetic manner?

Absolutely, it can evoke sympathy or compassion.
Sara Rehman
Sep 26, 2023

Can a song be described as "pitiful"?

Yes, if it's perceived as poor in quality or evokes feelings of pity.
Janet White
Sep 26, 2023

Which word would describe a poorly made tool: pitiful or mournful?

"Pitiful" would be more appropriate, suggesting its inadequacy.
Harlon Moss
Sep 26, 2023

Is "mournful" always related to death?

No, "mournful" can be related to any form of sorrow, not just death.
Harlon Moss
Sep 26, 2023

Is "mournful" always negative?

It primarily denotes sadness or sorrow, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's negative in all contexts.
Harlon Moss
Sep 26, 2023

Would "pitiful" or "mournful" describe a lament?

"Mournful" would be more appropriate for a lament, as it's an expression of sorrow.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023

Which word would better describe a sad poem about loss?

"Mournful" would be apt for a sad poem about loss.
Sara Rehman
Sep 26, 2023

Can a situation be described as "mournful"?

Yes, if it's characterized by sorrow or sadness.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 26, 2023

Can "mournful" be used to describe a facial expression?

Yes, someone can have a "mournful" look or expression.
Janet White
Sep 26, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.
Edited by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.

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