Looking for a single word antonym of the word "empathy".

I think it is the word "Apathy", but I feel that it could change depending if the word "empathy" can change depending on the context or not.

  • 1
    Have you searched for empathy antonym at Yahoo? It's there. – Marius Hancu Apr 23 '15 at 16:59
  • 1
    I'm not allowed to answer this now that it is closed but my answer (depending on the context) would be sociopathy. For example to speak of someone of high empathy you would say they are highly empathic (or empathetic depending on your local vernacular). or the opposite you would say someone is highly sociopathic. The simplistic textbook definition would speak more of anti-social behaviour but the underlying nature of sociopathy is most commonly rooted in a lack of empathy. – nathanchere Jun 29 '15 at 12:56

Antipathy could sometimes be a better antonym than apathy, as could "indifference". It really depends on the context. "Coldness" is sometimes a good antonym for "empathy", for example.

| improve this answer | |

According to the Greek etymology perhaps "apathy" ought to be the antonym to "empathy" , but everyone uses it to mean not being bothered to act. (I once came across an attempt to found an Apathy Society, but no one came to the founding meeting).

There is a word in Aristotle, ataraxia, that means remaining undisturbed by emotions, meant as a good thing (the Buddhist ideal?), but we should note that "empathy" is not actually about emotions at all, but the ability to put oneself in the place of another. That's an intellectual and moral operation, and its opposite is probably solipsism or psychopathy.

| improve this answer | |

A search at Yahoo for

empathy antonym

generates in the first position:

Empathy Synonyms, Empathy Antonyms | Thesaurus.com www.thesaurus.com/browse/empathy

Drilling down, one finds:

Antonyms for empathy











Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition

To me, this seems to be a reference as respectable as any other.


Now, this varies with the author. E.g.,

Making Your Creative Mark: Nine Keys to Achieving Your Artistic Goals Eric Maisel - 2013 -

Remember that although the word empathy contains the idea of compassion, it is not exactly the same thing as sympathy or compassion. ... The proper antonym of empathy, as we're using it here, is not unfeelingness but misunderstanding.

| improve this answer | |
  • Why was "A search on Yahoo" even necessary? – adantj Apr 23 '15 at 20:36
  • I thought the point of an antonym was to be a precise opposite, not the result of a word-association test. – David Pugh Apr 23 '15 at 20:58
  • @DavidPugh I understand your point, but that's what Roget's puts out there, and they're paid for it :-) Also, please see the update at the end (another reference). – Marius Hancu Apr 23 '15 at 21:19

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.