The Greek root word path can mean either “feeling” or “disease.” So as not to be apathetic in our “feelings” about path, let’s follow this short but informative “path” through its two meanings.
We will first discuss the root word path when it means “feeling.” If you have sympathy for another person, you “feel” with her. Therefore, a sympathetic person can “feel” with another, but may not necessarily have experienced the same emotions herself. Empathy consists of mutually shared “feelings.” Thus, if you are an empathic or empathetic person, you “feel” and thus identify with another person’s woes because you have experienced similar “feelings” yourself. Apathy, on the other hand, is lack of “feeling” altogether. An apathetic person does not care at all about the “feelings” of another suffering human being. That doesn’t mean that he holds antipathy or a “feeling” against someone, however, as someone who is antipathetic might.
Now let’s check out the cases where the root word path means “disease.” Notice that “disease” and “feeling” are related in terms of not “feeling” so well when you have a “disease.” Physicians know that pathology is the study of “disease.” Bacteria or viruses are pathogens that cause bodily “disease.” Psychiatrists are physicians who study “diseases” of the mind. A pathological liar has the “disease” of lying because she can’t help doing so repeatedly. A psychopath has a “diseased” mind, and so does inappropriate things in society. A sociopath is somewhat similar in that he has a “diseased” way of acting in society, as does a psychopath. Let’s not follow that twisted “path” to its conclusion, or we might get lost!
I think that we now have a confident “feeling” that we have taken the correct path to knowing the root word path, and are no longer “ill at ease” or “dis-eased” when it comes to words containing it!
- sympathy: a ‘feeling’ with
- sympathetic: of ‘feeling’ with
- empathy: a ‘feeling’ like that in another
- empathic/empathetic: of a ‘feeling’ like that in another
- apathy: no ‘feeling’
- apathetic: of no ‘feeling’
- antipathy: a ‘feeling’ against someone or something
- antipathetic: of a ‘feeling’ against someone or something
- pathology: the study of ‘disease’
- pathogen: microorganism which brings about ‘disease’
- pathological: of a ‘diseased’ condition
- psychopath: one who has a ‘diseased’ mind
- sociopath: one who has a ‘diseased’ way of interacting in society