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

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

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What does the word condolences mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster unabridged dictionary of the English language as well as other dictionaries like American Heritage and Collins English dictionary, the word condolences is a plural noun that refers to sympathy with another in sorrow, or some expression of sympathy.  Words of condolence, prayers and pity are often used for people during a difficult time, such as when someone is deceased. In times of need, people will give expressions of condolence and a feeling of pity to the unfortunate party in their times of need. Having this outpouring of love during an hour of need and knowing that others have the same fellow feeling can help the soul find peace. This English language expression is used during a time of loss in various ways to help relieve others of deep mental anguish during a time of loss such as the death of a friend. Condolences is four syllables – con-do-lence-s, and the pronunciation of condolences is kən-ˈdō-lən(t)ses.

Many different languages also contain words that mean condolences. You may notice that some of these words look and sound similar to one another. These are called cognates, which are words that retain the same meaning as well as a similar look and sound between languages. These are often formed when two words or languages have the same root or language of origin. This list of translations of condolences is provided by Word Sense.

  •  Dutch: innige deelneming‎
  •  Bulgarian: съболезнования‎ (pl.)
  •  Tagalog: hingaba‎, paghihingaba‎, pakikiramay‎
  •  Swahili: fariji‎
  •  Swedish: kondoleans‎ (common)
  •  Mandarin: 哀悼‎ (āidào), 吊慰‎ (diàowèi)
  •  Hungarian: részvét‎
  •  Arabic: تَأْسِيَّة‎ (fem.), تَعْزِيَّة‎ (fem.)
  •  Spanish: pésame‎
  •  Italian: condoglianze‎
  •  Japanese: 悔やみ‎ (くやみ, kuyami), 哀悼‎ (あいとう, aitō)
  •  Russian: соболе́знование‎ (neut.)
  •  Finnish: osanotto‎, surunvalittelu‎
  •  Portuguese: condolência‎ (fem.), pêsame‎ (masc.)
  •  Romanian: condoleanțe‎ (fem. pl.)
  •  German: Kondolenz‎ (fem.)
  •  Tashelhit: afcad‎
  •  French: condoléances‎ (fem. pl.)
  •  Norwegian: kondolanser‎
  •  Turkish: başsağlığı‎, taziye‎

What is the origin of the word condolences?

According to Etymonline, the word condolence has been used since 1600 to refer to sympathetic grief or sorrowing with another, and since the 1610s as an expression of sympathy to a person in distress or mourning. This comes from the  Late Latin condolens, the present participle of condolere. This comes from the assimilated form of com meaning with or together and the root dolere meaning to grieve. It was often spelled condoleance from 1600-1800. The word condolent (adj.) meaning sympathizing or compassionate has been used since 1500, from the Latin condolentem. Condolences as a formal declaration of sympathy have been used since the 1670s. There is no clear reason why it is always plural, but the earliest references are to expressions from groups of persons.

What are synonyms and antonyms of condolences?

There are many different words that can be used in place of the word condolences. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same meaning as another word or phrase. Synonyms are very useful to know if you are trying to avoid repeating yourself as well as if you are looking to expand your vocabulary. This list of synonyms for the word condolences is provided by Thesaurus.

  •  sympathy
  •  reassurance
  •  understanding
  •  rue
  •  tenderness
  •  ruth
  •  empathy
  •  thoughtfulness
  •  aid
  •  commiseration
  •  cheer
  •  consolation
  •  compassion
  •  encouragement
  •  solace
  •  comfort

There are also a number of words that mean the opposite of the word condolences. These opposite words are called antonyms, which are another great tool to have in your English language arsenal if you are looking to grow your vocabulary. This list of antonyms for the word condolences is also provided by Thesaurus

  •  malevolence
  •  antipathy
  •  alienation
  •  scorn
  •  malignance
  •  hatred
  •  hate
  •  odium
  •  spleen
  •  venom
  •  aversion
  •  envy
  •  coldness
  •  spite
  •  disgust
  •  pique
  •  animus
  •  rancor
  •  hard feelings
  •  disapproval
  •  disfavor
  •  antagonism
  •  ill will
  •  ignominy
  •  prejudice
  •  no use for
  •  revulsion
  •  abomination
  •  acrimony
  •  malice
  •  contempt
  •  repugnance
  •  loathing
  •  grudge
  •  displeasure
  •  revenge
  •  bitterness
  •  distaste
  •  abhorrence
  •  invidiousness
  •  animosity
  •  allergy to
  •  detestation
  •  hostility
  •  enmity
  •  execration
  •  militancy
  •  repulsion
  •  horror

How can the word condolences be used in a sentence?

The word condolences can be used in many different ways in the English language. Using words in a sentence is a great way to familiarize yourself with their definition. You can also try making flashcards and quizzes to test your knowledge of certain words’ definitions. Try using this word of the day in a sentence today. Below are many examples of condolences to get you started. 

My condolences, Patti. Your husband lived a remarkable life and was an amazing person.

When Melanie gave her condolences to Miller’s wife, she had no idea they were divorced and that she didn’t know her ex-husband had passed. She did the wrong thing with the best intentions and apologized profusely. This particular situation was a tough one. 

I sent my personal condolences to the Facebook account of the deceased person from my high school class. I did not have a contact for them anymore, but sending it out into the ether in the form of an online condolence book brought closure. I also donated to the GoFundMe page that their family set up to help pay for funeral home expenses and the time his wife had to take off of work.

They were sorry to hear that their elementary school teacher had passed away. Though it was years ago, they send their condolences by planting a tree in his honor.

Overall, the word condolences means an expression of sorrow or sympathy. This is often used in the phrase my condolences to show someone support during a time of sorrow or grief.

Sources:

  1. condolence: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  2. CONDOLENCES Synonyms: 7 Synonyms & Antonyms for CONDOLENCES | Thesaurus 
  3. HATRED Synonyms: 71 Synonyms & Antonyms for HATRED | Thesaurus 
  4. Condolences Etymology | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  5. Condolence | Definition of Condolence | Merriam-Webster