How do you the word "commiseration"? Is the word is a synonym of "sympathy"? The Cambridge Dictionary gives the meaning of the word:

an expression of sympathy for someone, especially someone who has lost a competition

So the following usage is correct?

Commiseration to the losers.

Stop your querulous self-commiseration.

But is the first usage somehow being ironic to the losers? Is the word is suitable for daily usage?Is it a derogatory word?


I think that Cambridge definition is a little too specific. I'm more inclined to agree with the Oxford Dictionary:

commiseration (n): Sympathy and sorrow for the misfortunes of others; compassion.

To commiserate is to "share sadness" with someone. Although the noun form is not common, it can be used in that context.

There's no shame in relying on family members and close friends for support, love, and commiseration.

"Poor man!" thought Meredith in a sudden burst of commiseration.

As with any other saddening event, it can be used to offer sympathy on the loss of a competition:

Although outwardly happy, in private the friends of the silver-medal winner gave her their commiseration.

or ironically:

After their embarrassing defeat in the final round of the World Cup, some fans offered the national football team some commiseration, but many others suggested public execution.

Commiserations is also acceptable, as a way to offer sympathy, similar to how we might use congratulations:

Our commiserations on the loss of your father.

Note: I expect it's more common to use the verb commiserate than the noun commiseration. Also, condolences is significantly more common than commiserations.

| improve this answer | |

The word is normally used in the plural, "commiserations". It is not a derogatory word.

Yes, you would say

Commiserations to the losers.

An explanation of this sentence would be

"My feelings of sympathy go to the losers."

The second sentence you provided would go better with the word "pity".

| improve this answer | |
  • I don't think this is correct. There are many texts with "commiseration" as a singular noun. I do think the plural is appropriate when combined with other plural nouns like "congratulations", though. – Andrew Oct 1 '18 at 16:51
  • I didn't say commiserations is only used in the plural. I said it normally is, which is true, since "commiserations" is a common expression of sympathy. – SUM1 Oct 1 '18 at 18:46
  • Your sentence suggests it's abnormal to use the singular. For future reference, you can check with a tool like NGram, which while not perfect, does show that "commiseration" shows up much more often than "commiserations". – Andrew Oct 1 '18 at 18:59
  • I thought you'd bring one of those up. You should remember that "commiseration" is multiple times more likely to show up due to dictionary entries and other glossary-type entries. Just because it's more mentioned in writing, doesn't mean it's what the average person would hear more from other people in real life. – SUM1 Oct 1 '18 at 19:01
  • As I said, NGram is flawed but it's still far better than opinion and anecdote. I'm trying to avoid downvoting your answer by giving you polite suggestions, but it's hard when you won't take a hint. – Andrew Oct 1 '18 at 20:18

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.