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[ee-thos, ee-thohs, eth-os, -ohs] /ˈi θɒs, ˈi θoʊs, ˈɛθ ɒs, -oʊs/
Sociology. the fundamental character or spirit of a culture; the underlying sentiment that informs the beliefs, customs, or practices of a group or society; dominant assumptions of a people or period:
In the Greek ethos the individual was highly valued.
the character or disposition of a community, group, person, etc.
the moral element in dramatic literature that determines a character's action rather than his or her thought or emotion.
1850-55; < Greek: custom, habit, character Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for ethos
  • It's a song that expresses a rock ethos many aspire to.
  • Part of the company ethos is to listen to fans.
  • Rodriguez combines sharp satire and timely political commentary with a decidedly B-movie ethos.
  • The concept surely grates on the scientific ethos.
  • This ethos shaped the American news media for more than a century.
  • Foster's first short story collection captures the blunt ethos of underachievers.
  • Our ethos is to look at business schools from the students' perspective.
  • The old ethos of equality has gone.
  • Blake's ethos, then and now, is to publish books he can imagine in the top 10.
  • He lacks ethos and that weakens his argument.
British Dictionary definitions for ethos


the distinctive character, spirit, and attitudes of a people, culture, era, etc: the revolutionary ethos
Word Origin
C19: from Late Latin: habit, from Greek
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for ethos

revived by Palgrave in 1851 from Greek ethos "moral character, nature, disposition, habit, custom," from suffixed form of PIE root *s(w)e- (see idiom). An important concept in Aristotle (e.g. "Rhetoric" II xii-xiv).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for ethos

in rhetoric, the character or emotions of a speaker or writer that are expressed in the attempt to persuade an audience. It is distinguished from pathos, which is the emotion the speaker or writer hopes to induce in the audience. The two words were distinguished in a broader sense by ancient Classical authors, who used pathos when referring to the violent emotions and ethos to mean the calmer ones. Ethos was the natural disposition or moral character, an abiding quality, and pathos a temporary and often violent emotional state. For Renaissance writers the distinction was a different one: ethos described character and pathos an emotional appeal.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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