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[pey-thos, -thohs, -thaws] /ˈpeɪ θɒs, -θoʊs, -θɔs/
the quality or power in an actual life experience or in literature, music, speech, or other forms of expression, of evoking a feeling of pity, or of sympathetic and kindly sorrow or compassion.
Obsolete, suffering.
Origin of pathos
1570-80; < Greek páthos suffering, sensation, akin to páschein to suffer
Can be confused
bathos, pathos. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for pathos
  • The ensuing confrontation is at once bleakly funny and ridden with pathos.
  • But the literary reader of our day cannot tolerate pure pathos.
  • The final scene was an odd mixture of chaos and pathos.
  • Ruggles was a poet of the people, and his early work set in the Michigan farmland of his youth reflects a deep pathos.
  • The former eventually pass, the latter just keeps on giving more pathos.
  • In other hands, the project might seem a sure-fire route to parody or pathos.
  • Part of the point of that class is the ethos and the pathos, not just the logos.
  • When confronted, you retreat into pathos and straw man invectives, because you have nothing else.
  • The trials provide the drama, the errors the comedy, and their overlap the pathos.
  • Saunders is a British actress who graces her first novel with crisp dialogue and a fine balance of pathos and comedy.
British Dictionary definitions for pathos


the quality or power, esp in literature or speech, of arousing feelings of pity, sorrow, etc
a feeling of sympathy or pity: a stab of pathos
Word Origin
C17: from Greek: suffering; related to penthos sorrow
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 pathos

"quality that arouses pity or sorrow," 1660s, from Greek pathos "suffering, feeling, emotion, calamity," literally "what befalls one," related to paskhein "to suffer," and penthos "grief, sorrow;" from PIE root *kwent(h)- "to suffer, endure" (cf. Old Irish cessaim "I suffer," Lithuanian kenčiu "to suffer," pakanta "patience").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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