Difference Between Compassionate and Merciful

Compassionate vs Merciful

Although the words compassionate and merciful sound similar in meaning, there exists a difference between these two words. First, let us pay attention to the definitions of these words. Compassion can be defined as pity or concern. Hence, being compassionate is when an individual shows concern or pity towards another. Mercy, on the other hand, can be defined as forgiveness shown towards someone. Being merciful is when an individual shows mercy or gives relief to another from suffering. This highlights that compassionate and merciful are different from one another. Through this article let us examine the differences further.

What is Compassionate?

Being compassionate is showing concern for another. For example, you see a homeless person who is seated at the corner of a street, wearing rugged clothes and with no food. You clearly see that this person is not in a good position and needs assistance. In such a situation, you will probably feel a strong emotion towards this person. This can even make you assist him with the intention of comforting him. This is compassion.

Compassion is when we are moved by the sufferings of another. We comprehend the pain and difficulty that another person is undergoing, and this produces an emotion of compassion. We feel compassionate not only towards human beings, but even towards animals. The special feature is that, in compassion, the suffering or circumstance that an individual is in makes another feel concern for that individual. We feel compassion for all sorts of people. It can be a homeless person, a prisoner, a cancer patient, etc. Feeling compassionate drives the person to comfort the other through various acts. Being compassionate is an important human quality because it allows us to feel deeply for another. However, being merciful is different to being compassionate.

Difference Between Compassionate and Merciful

Being compassionate is showing concern for another

What is Merciful?

Being merciful is when an individual displays mercy to another or else relief from suffering. This word is different from being compassionate mainly because compassion is shown to an individual who is suffering, but mercy is usually shown to someone who has wronged one. For example, imagine someone committed a great sin against another. Despite this wrong doing, if the one who was wronged decides to show mercy, it is referred to as being merciful.

Mercy can be shown by an individual with power who chooses not to hurt another, but show forgiveness. In the olden days, kings, lords, and warriors showed mercy to those who did wrong. Being merciful allows the person who wronged to gain peace because he feels forgiven. These are the main differences between being compassionate and merciful.

Compassionate vs Merciful

Merciful Knight – knight who has forgiven his enemy

What is the difference between Compassionate and Merciful?

Definitions of Compassionate and Merciful:

Compassionate: Being compassionate is showing concern for another.

Merciful: Being merciful is when an individual displays mercy to another or else relief from suffering.

Characteristics of Compassionate and Merciful:


Compassionate: Being compassionate includes showing concern.

Merciful: Being merciful does not include concern.

For Whom:

Compassionate: Compassion is shown to all those in pain.

Mercy: Mercy is shown to those who have wronged.


Compassionate : Compassionate pushes the individual to comfort the other to relieve him from suffering.

Merciful: Being merciful is merely to forgive so that the individual can find peace.


Images Courtesy: Compassion in action and The Merciful Knight via Wikicommosn (Public Domain)