AskDefine | Define apathy

Dictionary Definition



1 an absence of emotion or enthusiasm
2 the trait of lacking enthusiasm for or interest in things generally [syn: indifference, spiritlessness]

User Contributed Dictionary



From apathie, from apathīa, from (apatheia) "impassibility, insensibility, freedom from emotion", from (apathes) "not suffering or having suffered, without experience of", from (apatheō) "to be free from suffering", from (a-) "not" + (pathos) "anything that befalls one, an incident, emotion, passion".



  1. Complete lack of emotion or motivation about a person, activity, or object; depression; lack of interest or enthusiasm; disinterest.

Derived terms


lack of emotion or motivation
  • Croatian: apatija
  • Dutch: apathie
  • Finnish: apatia
  • German: Apathie
  • Hebrew: , אָפַּתְיָה (apatia)
  • Icelandic: áhugaleysi
  • Japanese: 無感動 (mukandō)
  • Polish: apatia
  • Serbian: apatija
  • Spanish: desidia

Extensive Definition

Apathy is a state of indifference — where an individual has an absence of interest or concern to certain aspects of emotional, social, or physical life.
Absence or suppression of passion, emotion, or excitement. Lack of interest in or concern for things that others find moving or exciting.


Apathy is a common feeling of complete discontent (dissatisfaction, i.e. not satisfied) for one's emotional behavior.
Apathy etymologically derives from the Greek απάθεια (apatheia), a term used by the Stoics to signify indifference for what one is not responsible for (that is, according to their philosophy, all things exterior, one being only responsible of his representations and judgments).
Some people may believe that the concept was then reappropriated by Christians, who adopted the term to express a contempt of all earthly concerns, a state of mortification, as (they claim) the gospel prescribes. However there is no such text in the Christian Bible.
The word has been used since then among more devout writers. Clemens Alexandrinus, in particular, brought the term exceedingly in vogue, thinking hereby to draw the philosophers to Christianity, who aspired after such a sublime pitch of virtue.
The concept of apathy became more sympathetically accepted in popular culture during the First World War, in which the appalling conditions of the Western Front led to apathy and shellshock amongst millions of soldiers. Many often had no emotion or thought process concerning killing/death in general.
2. Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.
apathy in Arabic: سلبية
apathy in Danish: Apati
apathy in German: Apathie
apathy in Estonian: Apaatia
apathy in Spanish: Apatía
apathy in French: Apathie
apathy in Ido: Apatio
apathy in Hebrew: אפתיה
apathy in Lithuanian: Apatija
apathy in Dutch: Apathie
apathy in Norwegian: Apati
apathy in Polish: Apatia (psychologia)
apathy in Russian: Апатия
apathy in Serbian: Апатија
apathy in Slovak: Apatia
apathy in Finnish: Apatia
apathy in Swedish: Apati

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Laodiceanism, abeyance, abstraction, abulia, accidia, acedia, alienation, aloofness, anxiety, anxiety equivalent, anxiety state, ataraxia, ataraxy, benumbedness, blah, blahs, boredom, callousness, calmness, carelessness, casualness, catalepsy, catatonia, catatonic stupor, cave of Trophonius, cave of despair, coldness, comatoseness, compulsion, deadliness, deathliness, dejection, depression, despair, desperateness, desperation, despondency, detachment, disconsolateness, disinterest, disinterestedness, dispassion, dispassionateness, disregard, disregardfulness, dormancy, drowsiness, dullness, easygoingness, elation, emotionalism, enervation, ennui, entropy, euphoria, fatigue, folie du doute, forlornness, halfheartedness, hardness, heartlessness, heaviness, hebetude, heedlessness, hopelessness, hypochondria, hysteria, hysterics, impassiveness, impassivity, inanimation, inappetence, inattention, incuriosity, incuriousness, indifference, indifferentism, indifferentness, indiscrimination, indolence, inertia, inertness, inexcitability, insensibility, insensitivity, insouciance, intellectual inertia, jadedness, lack of affect, lack of appetite, lack of interest, lackadaisicalness, languidness, languishment, languor, languorousness, lassitude, latency, lenitude, lentor, lethargicalness, lethargy, lifelessness, listlessness, lotus-eating, lukewarmness, mania, melancholia, mental distress, mindlessness, negligence, no exit, no way, no way out, nonchalance, numbness, obduracy, obsession, oscitancy, passiveness, passivity, pathological indecisiveness, phlegm, phlegmaticalness, phlegmaticness, plucklessness, pococurantism, preoccupation, psychalgia, psychomotor disturbance, recklessness, regardlessness, resignation, resignedness, satedness, sleepiness, sloth, slothfulness, slowness, sluggishness, somnolence, sopor, soporifousness, spiritlessness, spunklessness, stagnancy, stagnation, stasis, stoicism, stolidity, stupefaction, stupor, supineness, suspense, tic, torpidity, torpidness, torpitude, torpor, twitching, unanxiousness, unawareness, unconcern, uninquisitiveness, uninterestedness, unmindfulness, unresponsiveness, unsolicitousness, vegetation, vis inertiae, weariness, withdrawal, withdrawnness, world-weariness
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