The Meaning of Apathetic: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of apathetic? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word apathetic, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does apathetic mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language as well as dictionaries like American Heritage and Collins English Dictionary, the word apathetic is an adjective that describes someone who has or shows little interest, emotion, or concern. This could be for something specific or generally. The pronunciation of apathetic is ˌæpəˈθɛtɪk. A person who is apathetic may show symptoms of depression, have indifference, or a lack of passion and sympathy toward everyday tasks. Depression is considered a disorder and should be taken seriously; don’t let apathetic behavior, antipathy, or an absence of interese go unnoticed. This state of indifference from depression or other psychiatric disorders may inhibit someone’s physical life, cause a decrease in interest, and may require antidepressants. Feelings of apathy and other negative feelings are a natural response to disappointment people face, but apathy and low energy levels can be one of many specific signs to look out for when making a diagnosis of depression as the underlying cause.

According to WebMD, this might also be a symptom of other diseases or neurological disorders like dysthymia, a stroke, dementia (which healthcare providers may treat with cholinesterase inhibitors), progressive supranuclear palsy, Alzheimer’s disease (which may attempt treatment with donepezil/Aricept, rivastigmine/Exelon or galantamine/Razadyne), Parkinson’s disease, or schizophrenia. This person may have lost a vigor and ardor for life, which is now replaced by sluggishness and a lack of motivation in an apathetic individual.

Many different languages contain words that mean apathetic. You may notice that some of these words and phrases look and sound similar to one another. This is called a cognate. Cognates are when two words look, sound, and mean a similar thing across languages. These are often formed when two words have the same root or language of origin like Latin or Greek. This list of translations for the word apathetic is provided by Word Sense

  •  Maori: hūhē‎, koroukore‎
  •  Icelandic: áhugalaus‎
  •  Albanian: apatik‎
  •  Mandarin: 漠然‎ (mòrán)
  •  Norwegian: apatisk‎
  •  Swedish: apatisk‎
  •  Bulgarian: апатичен‎, безстрастен‎, равнодушен‎
  •  German: apathisch‎, ungerührt‎
  •  Esperanto: apatia‎
  •  Catalan: apàtic‎
  •  French: indifférent‎ (masc.), indifférente‎ (fem.)
  •  Spanish: apático‎, indiferente‎
  •  Serbo-Croatian: apatetičan‎, апатетичан‎, apatičan‎, апатичан‎
  •  Italian: apatico‎, atono‎
  •  Portuguese: apático‎
  •  Finnish: apaattinen‎
  •  Japanese: 無感動‎
  •  Ido: apatioza‎
  •  Hungarian: apatikus‎
  •  Dutch: apathisch‎
  •  Russian: апати́чный‎, равноду́шный‎, безразли́чный‎

What are synonyms and antonyms for apathetic?

There are many different words that a person can use in place of the word apathetic to refer to an absence of emotion. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same meaning as another word or phrase. Synonyms are a useful concept to know because they can help you expand your vocabulary and avoid repeating yourself. This list of synonyms for the word apathetic is provided by Thesaurus

  •  untouched
  •  uncaring
  •  couldn’t care less
  •  uninterested
  •  moony
  •  impassive
  •  blah
  •  stolid
  •  what the hell
  •  indifferent
  •  disinterested
  •  passive
  •  cold
  •  don’t give a damn
  •  draggy
  •  languid
  •  unresponsive
  •  stoic
  •  insensible
  •  flat
  •  unemotional
  •  could care less
  •  wimpy
  •  unmoved
  •  unconcerned
  •  cool
  •  emotionless
  •  callous
  •  laid-back
  •  unfeeling

There are also numerous different words that have the opposite meaning of the word apathetic. These opposite words are called antonyms, which are another quick and easy way to expand your vocabulary. This list of antonyms is also provided by Thesaurus.

  • merciful
  • sympathetic
  • benevolent
  • soft shell
  • warm
  • pitying
  • tenderhearted
  • softhearted
  • being big
  • indulgent
  • warmhearted
  • compassionate
  • kindly
  • benevolent
  • bleeding heart
  • piteous
  • humane
  • tender
  • humanitarian
  • lenient
  • going easy on
  • understanding
  • charitable
  • sparing
  • forbearing
  • all heart
  • commiserative
  • living with
  • responsive
  • kindhearted
  • old softie

What is the origin of apathetic?

According to Etymonline, the word apathetic comes from the noun apathy. This word has been used since 1600, from the 16th century French apathie, from the Latin apathia and Greek apatheia. This comes from apathes, from the prefix a meaning without and the root pathos meaning emotion. This comes from Proto-Indo-European roots, namely kwenth meaning to suffer. The modern usage has been in effect since 1733.

How can apathetic be used in a sentence?

The word apathetic can be used in many different sentences. Using a word in a sentence is a great way to memorize its definitions to incorporate into your vocabulary for daily usage. Try using this word of the day in a sentence today to remember its definition, or make flashcards or a quiz to test your knowledge. Below are examples of apathetic.

After losing out on the scholarship, Jenna lost interest in new things and new people, let her level of skill in piano diminish, and became generally apathetic about life.

As a result of the individuals receiving psychotherapy and being placed on medication for their anxiety and depression, their apathetic personality diminished and they were able to live a full life. 

The police could not believe the bystander apathy that occurred when the woman was attacked in broad daylight with many people around. The bystander effect cost the woman her purse, and nearly her life.

Hazel was bullied beyond belief in middle school; she became apathetic toward every inappropriate comment slung at her, and every inappropriate image scrawled onto her desk.

Rob gave a few apathetic clicks around the document, but he couldn’t bring himself to get down to business on his essay. 

Overall, the word apathetic refers to someone who shows little interest or sense of purpose. This trait may be caused by depression or another illness which can have symptoms of insensibility. This word is a specific descriptor and great to add to your arsenal of English language words. Try using the word apathetic in a sentence today!


  1. apathic: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  2. apathy | Origin and meaning of apathy | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  3. APATHETIC Synonyms: 35 Synonyms & Antonyms for APATHETIC | Thesaurus 
  4. COMPASSIONATE Synonyms: 47 Synonyms & Antonyms for COMPASSIONATE | Thesaurus 
  5. Apathetic | Definition of Apathetic | Merriam-Webster 
  6. Apathy: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment – Mental Health | WebMD