- the psychological identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.
- the imaginative ascribing to an object, as a natural object or work of art, feelings or attitudes present in oneself: By means of empathy, a great painting becomes a mirror of the self.
- the power of understanding and imaginatively entering into another person’s feelingsSee also identification (def. 3b)
- the attribution to an object, such as a work of art, of one’s own emotional or intellectual feelings about it
1903, from German Einfühlung (from ein “in” + Fühlung “feeling”), coined 1858 by German philosopher Rudolf Lotze (1817-1881) as a translation of Greek empatheia “passion, state of emotion,” from en “in” (see en- (2)) + pathos “feeling” (see pathos). A term from a theory of art appreciation that maintains appreciation depends on the viewer’s ability to project his personality into the viewed object.
- Direct identification with, understanding of, and vicarious experience of another person’s situation, feelings, and motives.
- The projection of one’s own feelings or emotional state onto an object or animal.
Identifying oneself completely with an object or person, sometimes even to the point of responding physically, as when, watching a baseball player swing at a pitch, one feels one’s own muscles flex.