ba·​thet·​ic bə-ˈthe-tik How to pronounce bathetic (audio)
: characterized by bathos
bathetically adverb

Did you know?

When English speakers turned apathy into apathetic in the late 17th century, using the suffix -etic to turn the noun into the adjective, they were inspired by pathetic, the adjectival form of pathos, from Greek pathētikos. People also applied that bit of linguistic transformation to coin bathetic. English speakers added the suffix -etic to bathos, the Greek word for "depth," which in English has come to mean "triteness" or "excessive sentimentalism." The result: the ideal adjective for the incredibly commonplace or the overly sentimental.

Examples of bathetic in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Recording another podcast in November 2020 — after the presidential election was held but before it was called for Biden, a moment when nothing in this country seemed to be working — Biederman argued that the show is, at its heart, about the bathetic nature of decline. New York Times, 29 Sep. 2021 For a globe-tracking narrative, some of the scenes which stand out in Episode 1 are the bathetic vignettes of Havelange’s domestic life, as his wife bears the brunt of an absent husband…. John Hopewell, Variety, 14 Oct. 2022 This navel-gazing can seem bathetic and indulgent, and certainly not always honest. Rachel Syme, The New Yorker, 13 Sep. 2022 The disorienting sentences, the deceptively plain declarations of fact, the perpetual sense of a great unraveling, the bathetic juxtapositions of social nonsense and bottomless anxiety—all are perfectly calibrated to our age of ecological dread. Nathaniel Rich, The New York Review of Books, 7 Oct. 2021 Characters meet brutal, untimely, bathetic deaths, which may or may not slow them down. Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, 20 Sep. 2021 Although an ugly personal wrangle forms the bathetic close of their joint story, Conan Doyle’s integrity shines through. Alexandra Mullen, WSJ, 26 July 2018 Timothée Chamalet and Armie Hammer are superb in the central roles, and despite an unignorable bathetic turn in the supporting performances, this is an important film. Chronicle Staff Report, San Francisco Chronicle, 5 Apr. 2018 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'bathetic.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


bathos + -etic (in pathetic)

First Known Use

1845, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of bathetic was in 1845


Dictionary Entries Near bathetic

Cite this Entry

“Bathetic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2023.

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