Definition of pathos
1 : an element in experience or in artistic representation evoking pity or compassion
2 : an emotion of sympathetic pity
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Examples of pathos in a Sentence
There is a pathos to the deflated certainties that left the Washington lawyer Leonard Garment weeping, inconsolable, outside the Senate chamber as the debate was ended. —Garry Wills, New York Times Book Review, 10 Sept. 1989
The struggle back to solvency was arduous, and the stubborn determination and reserves of strength that it called forth from him in his mid-forties made him all at once a figure of considerable pathos and heroism in my eyes, a cross of a kind between Captain Ahab and Willy Loman. —Philip Roth, Reading Myself and Others, (1961) 1975
Many schools at the end of the Depression were poor, but the threadbare nature of Christchurch was almost Dickensian in its pathos. —William Styron, This Quiet Dust and Other Writings, (1953) 1982
Our knowledge of his tragic end adds an element of pathos to the story of his early success.
Recent Examples of pathos from the Web
People know that calling dibs on parking spots, by whatever means, is wrong, no matter how much pathos can be summoned on behalf of expectant mothers or disabled grandmothers.
A.O. Scott, in his New York Times review, praised The House for its underlying sense of pathos, drawing attention to the desperation that inspires the main characters to enact their scheme.
In Austin Power’s ethereal watercolors, facial features float on white paper; difficult to read, they are filled with pathos and yearning.
Even within such a ridiculous plot, inhabiting such a ridiculous character, MacLachlan has brought unexpected pathos alongside the comedy, all in a role with few words and even fewer emotional shifts.
His friendship with a single mom in equally dire straits, the magnificent Hayley Squires as Katie, and her two young children adds further pathos.
Theis, Bell and Bremner know how to work Aron's story for maximum warmth and wit, so the poignancy doesn't spill over into pathos.
His poetry acquired a new simplicity, directness, and pathos—several of his masterworks date from these years—and his stature among Polish readers grew.
Similar cleverness with detail was seen throughout tonight’s installment of alternate-reality TV, an hour of outright nonsense that impressively delivered a heap of suspense, pathos, and humor.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pathos.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
pathos Entered English in the 1500s
The Greek word pathos means "suffering," "experience," or "emotion." It was borrowed into English in the 16th century, and for English speakers, the term usually refers to the emotions produced by tragedy or a depiction of tragedy. "Pathos" has quite a few kin in English. A "pathetic" sight moves us to pity. "Empathy" is the ability to feel the emotions of another. Though "pathology" is not literally "the study of suffering," it is "the study of diseases." You can probably guess at more relatives of "pathos." "Sympathy," "apathetic," "antipathy," "sociopath," and "psychopath" are a few.
Origin and Etymology of pathos
Greek, suffering, experience, emotion, from paschein (aorist pathein) to experience, suffer; perhaps akin to Lithuanian kęsti to suffer
First Known Use: 1591See Words from the same year
PATHOS Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of pathos for English Language Learners
: a quality that causes people to feel sympathy and sadness
Seen and Heard
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