Sympathy (from the Greek words syn ""together"" and pathos ""feeling"" which means ""fellow-feeling"") is the perception, understanding, and reaction to the distress or need of another human being. This empathic concern is driven by a switch in viewpoint, from a personal perspective to the perspective of another group or individual who is in need. Empathy and sympathy are often used interchangeably. Sympathy is a feeling, but the two terms have distinct origins and meanings. Merriam Webster defines empathy as ""the feeling that you understand and share another person's experiences and emotions : the ability to share someone else's feelings."" Their definition of sympathy is ""the feeling that you care about and are sorry about someone else's trouble, grief, misfortune, etc. : a feeling of support for something : a state in which different people share the same interests, opinions, goals, etc."" See professor Paul Bloom on empathy.