To "empathize" with someone means to

"understand and share the feelings of another" (Oxford dictionary).

In science fiction, an "empath" is

"a person with the paranormal ability to perceive the mental or emotional state of another individual." (Oxford dictionary)

Is there a word to describe the "opposite" (behaviour in nature, not antonym) of an "empath" - someone who can communicate in such a manner that it is very easy to empathize with them because you can easily understand or recognize the feelings behind what they are saying?

More details:

As pointed out above, an "empath" has the ability to perceive the mental or emotional state of another individual. I am seeking a word (if it exists) that describes the ability to communicate in such a manner as to "create a mental or emotional state" - an emotional connect - to make others more easily relate and empathise with them. (Something that most story tellers do effectively).

(Some commenter thinks my question is about Sci Fi. No, I am just looking for a word to describe something in plain English. But it doesn't matter if it is an uncommon and rare word from old English or even a modern slang).

  • Empath as a noun is now used to mean what you asked for. Like goth, punk, emo, snowflake. Nov 13 at 16:28
  • I'm not sure that there's a word specific to this, but it would be included in "expressive".
    – Barmar
    Nov 13 at 16:36
  • @YosefBaskin Could you clarify what you mean? Someone who is an empath doesn't necessarily mean that they can also communicate effectively.
    – sfxedit
    Nov 13 at 17:06
  • You want the characteristic of good communication to generate empathy as a result, then? To me, that's a sympathetic character. Nov 13 at 17:53
  • I'm not sure if it's quite what you have in mind, but I would describe such a person as a moving speaker/writer/&c. Other similar descriptors of the communication (poignant, touching, fiery, stirring, ...) mostly seem to focus on one emotion at a time. But affecting might be good too.
    – elutionary
    Nov 13 at 20:03

2 Answers 2


In certain contexts, particularly when describing a work of fiction, you could call them sympathetic, defined in this sense by Cambridge as:

If a character in a book or movie is sympathetic, they are described or shown in such a way that you are able to understand the character's feelings, with the result that you like them

  • Depends on the emotions. I don't think a character who's good at communicating negative emotions like anger and hate would be sympathetic, since you don't end up liking them (unless you also hate their target).
    – Barmar
    Nov 13 at 20:22
  • The word “empathy” differs from “sympathy” in that it implies sharing the (negative) emotions of someone because one has been in a similar situation, not just because one can envisage the trauma of the situation. So I can sympathise with a woman who has had a miscarriage but, as a man, can never feel empathy for her, regardless of how well she communicates. That is why the most a speaker can do is to invoke sympathy (or pity, sorrow, outrage etc). Which is why this answer gets my vote (although the question doesn’t.)
    – David
    Nov 13 at 23:16
  • @David Note though that an empath has the ability to perceive the mental or emotional state of another individual and so someone who can communicate to create that mental or emotional state effectively, can make someone empathise with them. For example, a woman who has miscarried can describe the deep loss she feels, the self-blame that makes her feel guilty etc. And that is something even a man can relate to and understand even if he is incapable of undergoing something similar. While similar situational experience may make it easier to relate, it's finally all about emotions and feelings.
    – sfxedit
    Nov 14 at 3:29

If we are a talking about extreme psychological types, as in what I presume is meant by the niche (fictional?) word “empath”, then the opposite might be:


or, to use the English translation of the term employed by members of the group to which Astrid belongs in the French TV series, Astrid et Raphaëlle:

non-neurotypical or neurodivergent

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

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