I know what prompted me to choose the word sympathist to describe my regard for the Chicago Cubs: the ways in which the word sympathizer has long been associated with hateful and fanatic causes.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines sympathist thusly: “One who sympathizes, a sympathizer.” And sympathizer : “One who or that which sympathizes; esp. one disposed to agree with or approve a party, cause, etc.; a backer-up.” So one can sympathize without being a sympathizer.
What makes me happy about having chosen sympathist : as I now know, the OED traces the word to Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The full Coleridge sentence that the OED abbreviates:
The knowledge, — the unthought of consciousness, — the sensation of human auditors — of flesh and blood sympathists — acts as a support and a stimulation a tergo, while the front of the mind, the whole consciousness of the speaker, is filled, yea, absorbed by the apparition.What makes me happier still — take note, Stefan Hagemann — is that Coleridge is writing about Hamlet .
[A tergo : Latin, “from behind.”]