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.
Did You Know?
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: 1591
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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