If someone was trying to persuade you to do something, you might say "he spoke convincingly."

What is a similar word for someone who is speaking in a way to gain sympathy from you?

Hope this makes sense.

  • 1
    @DecapitatedSoul Your suggested link deals more with the exaggerated expression whereas the PO is more concerned with the eliciting of emotion. I suggest the question is valid and have answered it from that second viewpoint.
    – Anton
    Apr 18, 2021 at 7:10
  • @Anton Ah.... I'll remove my close-vote Apr 18, 2021 at 7:14
  • The person pleeded/begged for his life.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 18, 2021 at 8:36
  • @Mari-LouA Shouldn't it be more general than that? They could very well be trying to gain your sympathy on behalf of someone else than themselves.
    – LPH
    Apr 18, 2021 at 8:45
  • 1
    If the person's primary intent is to manipulate, you might say they were playing on your sympathy.
    – user888379
    Apr 18, 2021 at 14:17

6 Answers 6


They are speaking supplicatingly

= Beseechingly, imploringly; in supplication

Oxford Lexico

From which, also consider:

Beseechingly, from beseeching : expressing or marked by earnest pleading or entreaty

“The wretched young man arose, and with a last beseeching glance at us walked from the room.”

Merriam Webster

And imploringly

in a way that expresses urgent or piteous pleading, as for aid or mercy; beseechingly:

"No! Don't kill the spider!" gasped my daughter, looking imploringly into my eyes.


  • 3
    I would say that supplicatingly, and beseechingly, are both very rare, and chiefly old-fashioned and formal. Imploring is good but tends to be "intense" and somewhat subservient. It also implies a manner of asking someone to change their mind or give something, but the OP has given no real context.
    – Greybeard
    Apr 18, 2021 at 11:10
  • Ngram shows marked declines in beseech and beseeching over the last 100 years. Beseechingly, being derivative, is less used than those two but, interestingly, has declined less in relative terms.
    – Anton
    Apr 18, 2021 at 13:02
  • 2
    While likely correct, using these as adverbs looks rather clumsy to me. I'd rewrite the sentence to make these verbs if I were OP.
    – Stian
    Apr 19, 2021 at 7:40
  • @StianYttervik Be that as it may, you are not the PO, and the rewriting of the sentence is a matter of opinion. The real PO asked for a word, not for advice on rewriting.
    – Anton
    Apr 19, 2021 at 22:20
  • @Anton And now he has both. A situation much improved, hmm?
    – Stian
    Apr 20, 2021 at 6:16

I would say wretchedly, lamentably or pitiably - with the latter evoking pity (which is close to sympathy).

However, I have not often, if ever, heard pitiably used, whereas wretchedly and lamentably are more common.

Personally I would go for lamentably, if someone was trying to evoke sympathy for their plight:

"I am so hungry and I've go no money left. Please buy me some food mister", the boy said to me, lamentably, his big wide eyes pleading with me.

Wretchedly, for me, could be a bit extreme and is for someone really at their lowest, and they may not be trying to evoke sympathy, but rather demonstrating their despair:

"My house burnt to the ground and I've lost everything. What am I to do?" he cried wretchedly.

Or pleadingly... that would seem to be a better option - generally you plead for sympathy.

  • The examples seem rather constructed though. "[...], the boy lamented, his big eyes [...]". Using the verbs just "sounds" more natural to me.
    – Stian
    Apr 19, 2021 at 7:40
  • 1
    I had exactly the same thought for the former ("lamentably"), but not the latter ("pleading"), so, IMHO, this would be better: the boy lamented, his big wide eyes pleading with me. However, I was just following/matching the OP's template of using adverbs. Apr 19, 2021 at 12:03

My first thought was ingratiatingly, but Anton's answer is more accurate.

  • 1
    Why the downvote? "ingratiatingly" is spot-on - it literally means "in such a way as to enter the good graces of someone".
    – LSerni
    Apr 19, 2021 at 9:03
  • 1
    This word was my thought, but maybe it's downvoted for not having a definition or link.
    – Stuart F
    Apr 19, 2021 at 11:03
  • 1
    Someone dinged me, with no explanation, for my first post? Tough room... Apr 19, 2021 at 11:18
  • 2
    Didn't downvote, but this misses the aspect of sympathy. There are a lot of reasons and ways to get on someone's good side, but not all of them will be because you want someone to feel sorry for you. Apr 19, 2021 at 13:14
  • StackExchange may be better than the internet in general, but it's still the internet. Ingratiatingly is a bit ugly. Ingratiate is the real word, then 2 suffixes. But supplicatingly has the same problem and got votes. Apr 19, 2021 at 20:59

The two cases are not the same, because persuasion is a verb, while sympathy is a noun. Consequently, while we can say that we were persuaded by a statement, we can't say that we were "sympathised" by it. Instead we would say that the statement aroused our sympathy. We can, however, use verbs that imply supplication, or misery on the part of the speaker; and the natural inference will be that the speaker was trying to arouse our sympathy: "'Please give me some bread,' he implored, 'I haven't eaten since yesterday,' he wept." Alternatively, we can use adverbs that tell us something about the way the speaker conveyed the message: "'I'm awfully hungry,' he said pitifully, 'I can't go on,' he said faintly." All of these can imply that the speaker was trying to arouse our sympathy,



In a way that arouses pity, especially by displaying vulnerability or sadness.

Oxford Lexico

having a capacity to move one to either compassionate or contemptuous pity


causing or evoking pity, sympathetic sadness, sorrow, etc.


Admittedly I've seen this word more frequently describe actions than speech, but it seems to fit in this context.


I think you are referring to the "Poor Me Syndrome."?
Or a self-pitying person. A person who uses Self-piteous cognitions would be someone who has Poor Me Syndrome.

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