ap·​a·​thet·​ic ˌa-pə-ˈthe-tik How to pronounce apathetic (audio)
: affected by, characterized by, or displaying apathy : having or showing little or no interest, concern, or emotion
apathetic voters
apathetic indifference
an apathetic attitude/response
It's really easy to feel apathetic about politics and forget how much they affect our daily lives. Emily Shwake
NFL fans and media members are mostly apathetic toward the exhibition games. Henry McKenna
Even with Doppler radar and networks of spotters, many residents of Tornado Alley are surprisingly apathetic. Warren Faidley
She was listless, apathetic, calm with the calmness of a woman who knows she can suffer no further. Frank Norris
Children or teens who are … depressed and apathetic Victoria L. Dunckley
People with abnormally low levels of thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism) are often listless and apathetic; in fact, the symptoms may look very much like endogenous depression. Lester Grinspoon et al.
… there is no emotion and she remains apathetic to all around her. leitrimobserver.ie
apathetically adverb

Did you know?

Discover if You're Apathetic

Apathy, or lack of emotion, is central to Albert Camus's famous novel The Stranger, in which the main character's indifference toward almost everything, including his mother's death, results in his imprisonment. We feel little sympathy for him, and may even feel antipathy, or dislike. The American voter is often called apathetic; of all the industrial democracies, only in America does half the adult population fail to vote in major elections. As you can see, apathetic isn't the opposite of pathetic, even though the a- that it begins with means "not" or "without".

Choose the Right Synonym for apathetic

impassive, stoic, phlegmatic, apathetic, stolid mean unresponsive to something that might normally excite interest or emotion.

impassive stresses the absence of any external sign of emotion in action or facial expression.

met the news with an impassive look

stoic implies an apparent indifference to pleasure or especially to pain often as a matter of principle or self-discipline.

was resolutely stoic even in adversity

phlegmatic implies a temperament or constitution hard to arouse.

a phlegmatic man unmoved by tears

apathetic may imply a puzzling or deplorable indifference or inertness.

charitable appeals met an apathetic response

stolid implies a habitual absence of interest, responsiveness, or curiosity.

stolid workers wedded to routine

Example Sentences

But contrary to popular belief, not all jocks are as apathetic as they are athletic. One such progressive player is Toni Smith, a college basketball player who turned her back on Old Glory every time the national anthem was played before her games last season. In a written statement, she cited America's systemic inequalities as her reason for not saluting the flag. Complex, June/July 2003 The disorder is sometimes inherited via a defective gene from one parent, and patients are usually spared signs of the disorder until they reach their fifties. Because the brain-cell loss occurs in parts of the brain that help regulate social behavior, personality changes are the most common manifestations of the illness. Patients tend to become either uninhibited or apathetic. Bruce L. Miller, Discover, January 1998 But in cities such as Boston, Cincinnati, Oakland, San Francisco, and Seattle, reformers are trying to recharge an apathetic electorate by taking aim at the very process of voting itself. Wilma Rule et al., Ms., September/October 1996 Young people are becoming increasingly apathetic. the apathetic attitude of the public Surprisingly, most Americans are apathetic toward this important issue. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Voters overwhelmingly believe American democracy is under threat, but seem remarkably apathetic about that danger, with few calling it the nation’s most pressing problem, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll. Kristen Bayrakdarian, New York Times, 18 Oct. 2022 The other lot, mostly young, are largely apathetic. Aijaz Hussain, ajc, 2 Nov. 2022 Recent polls show many Americans are apathetic about the state of the pandemic and disinclined to keep getting boosters. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, 26 Oct. 2022 Washington, with a chance to start 2-0 for the first time since 2011, could use a victory to try to win back some of a fan base that has become increasingly apathetic. Mark Heim | Mheim@al.com, al, 18 Sep. 2022 But the Kremlin understands this would be an unpopular decision among the pacified and apathetic Russian public. Matthew Bodner, NBC News, 18 Sep. 2022 On the opposite side of the divisive issue, the Supreme Court decision has galvanized some once-apathetic voters, who are now keenly aware of the stakes of political participation. Stephanie Ebbert, BostonGlobe.com, 27 July 2022 In San Francisco, the general attitude toward cars is somewhat apathetic. Nick Czap, Robb Report, 8 July 2022 Since the security law was introduced, tens of thousands of residents have left the city while others grew apathetic over politics. Elaine Yu, WSJ, 1 July 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'apathetic.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


borrowed from New Latin apathēticus, from a- a- entry 2 + pathēticus pathetic, after apathīa apathy

First Known Use

1692, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of apathetic was in 1692

Dictionary Entries Near apathetic

Cite this Entry

“Apathetic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apathetic. Accessed 7 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition


ap·​a·​thet·​ic ˌap-ə-ˈthet-ik How to pronounce apathetic (audio)
: having or showing little or no feeling or interest
apathetically adverb

Medical Definition


ap·​a·​thet·​ic ˌap-ə-ˈthet-ik How to pronounce apathetic (audio)
: having or showing little or no feeling or emotion
apathetically adverb

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