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

What does the word apathy mean? This article is a guide to all of the information there is about apathy, like its origin, synonyms, and more.

Your writing, at its best

Compose bold, clear, mistake-free, writing with Grammarly's AI-powered writing assistant

If someone has a lot of apathy for something, what does that mean? This article is here to help you learn all of the information there is to know about the word apathy.

What Does the Word Apathy Mean?

According to Collins English Dictionary, the noun apathy refers to an absence of interest, emotion, or enthusiasm. Someone with apathy might have a lack of motivation, a suppression of passion, the suppression of emotion, or the absence of emotion. 

Sometimes, apathy can have a medical cause that can be diagnosed by doctors and psychologists. People who have Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, schizophrenia, depression, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, or a stroke might have apathy as a symptom. However, people can feel apathetic toward things without a medical cause. 

A complete lack of emotion or widespread apathy can be a symptom of a number of different mental health conditions. Sometimes, this state of indifference might come from situational disappointment. Other times, the underlying causes result in a diagnosis.

What Are Translations of the Word Apathy?

It’s not only English speakers who might feel apathy, but people all around the world. Therefore, there are numerous translations of the word apathy. Apathy has Latin and Greek roots, so you may notice that many of the below languages have similar words for apathy. 

  • Estonian: ükskõiksus‎, apaatia‎
  • Slovak: apatia‎ (fem.), ľahostajnosť‎ (fem.), nevšímavosť‎ (fem.)
  • German: Apathie‎ (fem.)
  • Finnish: apatia‎, välinpitämättömyys‎, apaattisuus‎
  • Icelandic: áhugaleysi‎ (neut.)
  • Mandarin: 冷漠‎ (lěngmò)
  • Hindi: अनुरागहीनता‎
  • Arabic: لَامُبَالَاة‎ (lā-mubālāh), عَدَم اِكْتِرَاث‎, خُمُول‎
  • Danish: apati‎ (common)
  • Ido: apatio‎
  • Esperanto: apatio‎
  • Dutch: apathie‎ (fem.)
  • Latin: apathia‎, duritia‎
  • Basque: apatia‎
  • Japanese: 無感動‎ (むかんどう, mukandō), 無関心‎ (むかんしん, mukanshin)
  • Portuguese: apatia‎ (fem.)
  • Polish: apatia‎ (fem.)
  • Swedish: apati‎ (common)
  • Maori: ngākaukore‎, arokore‎, iwingohe‎
  • Czech: apatie‎ (fem.)
  • Romanian: apatie‎ (fem.)
  • Russian: апа́тия‎ (fem.), безразли́чие‎ (neut.), равноду́шие‎ (neut.)
  • Hebrew: אדישות‎ (adishut), אָפַּתְיָה‎
  • Albanian: apati‎
  • Hungarian: apátia‎
  • Galician: apatía‎ (fem.)
  • Serbo-Croatian: apatija‎
  • Greek: απάθεια‎ (fem.)
  • Spanish: apatía‎ (fem.)
  • Khmer: ភាពកន្តើយ‎ (pʰiep kɑntaəy)
  • Faroese: dølskni‎ (fem.) (n), kensluloysi‎ (neut.), líkasæla‎ (fem.)
  • Catalan: apatia‎ (fem.)
  • Armenian: անտարբերություն‎, ապատիա‎
  • Latvian: apātija‎ (fem.)
  • French: apathie‎ (fem.)
  • Afrikaans: apatie‎

What Is the Etymology of the Word Apathy?

The word apathy has been used in English since the late 16th century. This word comes from the French apathie and the Greek apatheia. The Ancient Greek ἀπάθεια comes from the Greek adjective apathēs or ἀπαθής, which means without feeling. This word in turn stems from the Latin apathīa

Apathīa comes from the Latin prefix a — meaning not — and pathos, meaning emotion. In Greek, pathos is written as πάθος. The word pathos has also given use words like antipathy, sympathy, empathy, and pathetic. These words have Indo-European roots.

How Is the Word Apathy Used in a Sentence?

By taking a look at the below example sentences containing apathy, you can learn how to incorporate this new word into your vocabulary:

After being shot down by the school board numerous times, the teacher started to feel apathy towards the lack of mobility in her job.

His best friend had asked him for money several times. While he loved his friend, he no longer felt pity for his situation — only apathy.

To try help me stop feeling apathy, my best friends took me on an outing to all of my favorite restaurants, shops, and local haunts. Their care truly helped me feel less apathetic.

What Are Synonyms of the Word Apathy?

Since the word apathy can be refer to a symptom of mental and physical illnesses, it may not always be appropriate in different contexts. You can always turn to one of the below synonyms of apathy from Power Thesaurus if you are looking for a word that evokes apathy without a medical connotation. 

Other situations in which it’s useful to use synonyms include attempts to avoid repitition or to paint a clearer picture of a person’s behavior.

  • aloofness
  • boredom
  • callousness
  • coldness
  • coolness
  • detachment
  • disinterest
  • disinterestedness
  • dispassion
  • disregard
  • doldrums
  • dullness
  • ennui
  • heedlessness
  • idleness
  • impassiveness
  • impassivity
  • inaction
  • inactivity
  • inattention
  • indifference
  • indolence
  • inertia
  • inertness
  • insensibility
  • insensitivity
  • insouciance
  • lack of concern
  • lack of enthusiasm
  • lack of interest
  • languor
  • lassitude
  • laziness
  • lethargy
  • lifelessness
  • listlessness
  • negligence
  • nonchalance
  • numbness
  • passivity
  • phlegm
  • sloth
  • slowness
  • sluggishness
  • spiritlessness
  • stolidity
  • stupor
  • tedium
  • torpidity
  • torpor
  • unconcern
  • unresponsiveness
  • weariness

What Are Antonyms of the Word Apathy?

If you know someone who is always super enthusiastic, you could say that they display the opposite of apathy. What words can be used as the opposite of apathy? Study them in this list of antonyms of apathy, which is provided by Power Thesaurus:

  • action
  • affinity
  • alacrity
  • allergy
  • ambition
  • animation
  • appetite
  • application
  • ardor
  • avidity
  • awareness
  • care
  • compassion
  • concern
  • curiosity
  • dedication
  • desire
  • devotion
  • drive
  • eagerness
  • emotion
  • empathy
  • enjoyment
  • enthusiasm
  • excitement
  • exuberance
  • feeling
  • fervency
  • fervor
  • fire
  • fixation
  • go
  • greed
  • gusto
  • interest
  • keenness
  • life
  • love
  • lust
  • passion
  • perseverance
  • pleasure
  • regard
  • relish
  • sensibility
  • sensitivity
  • strong liking
  • sympathy
  • vibe
  • warmth


The noun apathy refers to a general lack of emotion towards important matters. These feelings of indifference can come from a medical diagnosis, or they can simply be a general disposition or behavior. A person who has a lot of apathy can be described using the adjective apathetic.


  1. Apathy synonyms – 1 191 Words and Phrases for Apathy | Power Thesaurus
  2. Apathy antonyms – 1 367 Opposites of Apathy | Power Thesaurus 
  3. Apathy definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary