I'm looking for a word that describes making a passionate expression of how sorry you feel for someone.

A bit like "sanctimonious" means making a big show of how moral you are.

Or "outrage" is a passionate display of anger or disapproval.

I'm looking for similar to express compassion or pity in an exaggerated or passionate way.

For example: "as a display of his [extreme compassion] Bob wept when discussing the plight of the victims"

  • [feeling extremely sorry for someone=grammar]
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 6, 2021 at 16:16
  • I pity the fool - sure I heard that somewhere Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 19:09
  • A sincere but extreme expression, and an exaggerated and fake expression are two very different things. There are plenty of single-word terms for extreme or exaggerated expressions of emotions, but none afaik specifically for pity/compassion/sympathy.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Mar 4, 2022 at 11:06

2 Answers 2


I suggest commiseration, which Lexico gives as


1 Sympathy and sorrow for the misfortunes of others; compassion.

So the sentence could be

As a display of his commiseration Bob wept when discussing the plight of the victims.

  • “Commiseration”? That’s feeble. If there isn’t a word in English, better not to pretend there is. Sort of thing the Ancient Greeks and Romans went in for. Stiff upper lip here.
    – David
    Commented Mar 3, 2022 at 20:35

If Bob wasn't weeping crocodile tears but was genuinely lachrymose, he was empathizing with the victims.

Empathy: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner

also : the capacity for this

[Merriam-Webster Dictionary]

Instead, if Bob was just showing false sympathy to the victims, he could be accused of smarm

Smarmy: revealing or marked by a smug, ingratiating, or false earnestness

[Merriam-Webster Dictionary]

a tone of smarmy self-satisfaction — New Yorker

  • The word you appear to be thinking of is “sympathy”, not “empathy”. You might consult a dictionary to discover the difference. But I don’t think either is “extreme”.
    – David
    Commented Mar 3, 2022 at 20:31

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