Is there a word in English that describes a woman's appearance that could easily arouse sympathy from others?

something along the line of meek and kittenish?

closed as unclear what you're asking by Jason Bassford, JJJ, Cascabel, Chappo, Edwin Ashworth Aug 17 at 15:28

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    I'm a bit confused by your question. How would "kittenish", either in the playful or lively meaning, or the one more specifically used to describe women (2. (of a woman) flirtatious, esp coyly flirtatious), arouse sympathy? Maybe you can explain a bit more. I'm not sure whether it's just me but I'm not understanding clearly. – Zebrafish Aug 13 at 2:39
  • We used to say demure, but I don't know if that is in the popular lexicon anymore. Apart from that, meek and kittenish do not seem to work together. – Cascabel Aug 13 at 19:01
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    @Cascabel It's interesting, some dictionaries simply say that "demure" is reserved and shy, while others say that it's "affectedly" so, which to me means that she isn't REALLY shy and reserved. Likewise "coy" is usually given with both meanings in two separate definitions, actually shy, and affectedly shy. I'm wondering if the questioner is referring to feeling sympathy for the woman because she is shy/demure/coy. – Zebrafish Aug 13 at 19:51
  • @Zebrafish I think the last time I saw the usage was in Mary Stewart's The Crytal Cave (197o), Merlin is describing Ygraine..."...what I would call demure in a young girl", and that definitely would tend to support the idea of a "pretension". But I am relying on memory. Gotta go look it up. – Cascabel Aug 13 at 20:06
  • I'm wondering if the 'others' whose sympathy is aroused includes women and men or if it's just men, and if it's just men, is it all men or say a stereotype Western man from the 1950s? In that case the Stepford wives comes to mind though they have to be good at housework too. – S Conroy Aug 13 at 21:24

Is there a word in English that describes a woman's appearance that could easily arouse sympathy from others?

The word forlorn immediately springs to mind. However it is not gender explicit.

forlorn adjective (SAD) Cambridge English Dictionary literary alone and unhappy; left alone and not cared for:

Example; She looked a forlorn figure standing at the bus stop.

Other suggestions are;

miserable; adjective (UNHAPPY) very unhappy: She's miserable living on her own.

wretched adjective (BAD QUALITY) unpleasant or of low quality: a wretched childhood


The word “sympathy” means different things in different languages. In English, it means something as compassion, pity, fellow feeling, so something which make you unhappy, while in your native language it is probably something as liking or fondness, which make you happy.

If it is the case, you may use words as attractive, appealing, desirable, luscious, or alluring.

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