ba·​thos | \ˈbā-ˌthäs \

Definition of bathos 

1a : the sudden appearance of the commonplace in otherwise elevated matter or style

b : anticlimax

2 : exceptional commonplaceness : triteness

3 : insincere or overdone pathos : sentimentalism

Examples of bathos in a Sentence

The serious message of the film is ruined by the bathos of its ridiculous ending. a novel that wallows in bathos

Recent Examples on the Web

And Link, to her credit and with great help from the honest Zacharias, avoids the trap of hyperventilation or bathos, into which movies based on Tolstoy often sink. Chris Jones,, "It's Monday. It's Rogers Park. And thanks to the strength of Chicago theater, it's time for 'Anna Karenina'," 2 Mar. 2018 Nevertheless, the reader is left wanting because the story lacks the pathos and bathos that great comic fiction requires. Min Jin Lee, New York Times, "Was It the Perfect Crime or a Paranoid Fantasy?," 15 Feb. 2018 An almost unrelievedly grim potboiler that milks the tragedy surrounding its central character, Magda Sorel, for maximum bathos. John Von Rhein,, "Racette's searing performance elevates melodramatic hokum of COT's 'The Consul'," 5 Nov. 2017 The stories aren’t ginned up with emotion or bathos. Dominic P. Papatola, Twin Cities, "Theater review: ‘Citizen: An American Lyric’ adapts seamlessly to the stage," 12 Mar. 2017 Always, a larger goal is in mind: the absurdities and bathos and impossibility of How We Live Now. Charles Bock, New York Times, "In ‘Still Here,’ Four Russian Friends Confront Middle Age in New York City," 9 Aug. 2016 And there are several moments of such bathos — from the ridiculous Prologue to the final leaps into the lake. Alastair Macaulay, New York Times, "Review: Two True Artists, One Dramatically Limp ‘Swan Lake’," 13 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bathos.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of bathos

1727, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for bathos

borrowed from Greek báthos "depth," neuter s-stem derivative of bathýs "deep" — more at bathy-

Note: The English use of the word bathos allegedly originates with the satirical essay "ΠΕΡΙ ΒΑΘΟΥΣ / or Of the Art of Sinking in Poetry / Written in the Year 1727" (first published March, 1728), by "Martinus Scriblerus," a fictional literary hack created by Alexander Pope, John Arbuthnot, Jonathan Swift, and other members of the Scriblerus Club; authorship of the essay is usually ascribed to Pope. The Greek title (Perì báthous, "Concerning depth") echoes the title of the classical treatise "On the Sublime" (Perì hýpsous, literally, "Concerning height"), dated to the 1st century A.D. and formerly attributed to the 3rd century rhetorician Cassius Longinus. In Pope's essay, bathos—which, in the inverted perspective of the hack author, is a favorable quality—is used broadly to characterize literary passages deemed coarse or pedestrian for a genre such as epic poetry. The idea that bathos involves a shift from elevated to low is never stated explicitly—rather, a genre such as epic is by its nature elevated and the poetic execution (ironically praised by Scriblerus) is of low quality.

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The first known use of bathos was in 1727

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English Language Learners Definition of bathos

: the sudden appearance of a silly idea or event in a book, movie discussion, etc., that is serious in tone

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Comments on bathos

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to express warning or disapproval

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