ba·​thos | \ ˈbā-ˌthäs How to pronounce bathos (audio) \

Definition of bathos

1a : the sudden appearance of the commonplace in otherwise elevated matter or style
2 : exceptional commonplaceness : triteness
3 : insincere or overdone pathos : sentimentalism

Keep scrolling for more

Keep scrolling for more

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 There’s a fair amount of heavy lifting in the book’s philosophical debates, but Lavery banishes earnestness thanks to her drily witty use of bathos. David Benedict, Variety, 8 Dec. 2021 Much of the show unfolds this way, in a wry flurry of montage that brings pathos, and bathos, to Wilson’s narration. Dan Piepenbring, The New Yorker, 25 Nov. 2020 Most importantly, the film never succumbs to the bathos that might have been expected from its melodramatic plot elements (although a climactic scene set in a cemetery comes awfully close). Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, 12 Aug. 2020 The foremost risk in such a setup is bathos: the poor kid! John Domini, Dallas News, 1 July 2019 The bathos of the latter tends to casts an absurd light on the former. Hermione Hoby, The New Yorker, 3 July 2019 The foremost risk in such a setup is bathos: the poor kid! John Domini, Dallas News, 1 July 2019 The foremost risk in such a setup is bathos: the poor kid! John Domini, Washington Post, 13 June 2019 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,, 2 Mar. 2018 See More

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About bathos

Dictionary Entries Near bathos




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for bathos

Cite this Entry

“Bathos.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on bathos Encyclopedia article about bathos


Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Color

  • a light greenish blue color
  • Name that color:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!