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Borrowed from Ancient Greek βάθος (báthos, depth). Employed ironically following Alexander Pope's Peri Bathous, lampooning various errors in contemporary writers.



bathos (usually uncountable, plural bathoses)

  1. Overdone or treacly attempts to inspire pathos.
    • 1847, Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre, page 192:
      I like you more than I can say; but I'll not sink into a bathos of sentiment...
  2. (now uncommon) Depth.
    • 1638, Robert Sanderson, A sermon preached at Newport in the Isle of Wight, II.101:
      There is such a height, and depth, and length, and breadth in that love; such a βάθος in every dimension of it.
  3. (literature, the arts) Risible failure on the part of a work of art to properly affect its audience, particularly owing to:
    1. anticlimax: an abrupt transition in style or subject from high to low.
    2. banality: unaffectingly clichéd or trite treatment of a topic.
    3. immaturity: lack of serious treatment of a topic.
    4. hyperbole: excessiveness
  4. (literature, the arts) The ironic use of such failure for satiric or humorous effect.
  5. (uncommon) A nadir, a low point particularly in one's career.
    • 1814, Thomas Jefferson, Writings, IV.240:
      How meanly has he closed his inflated career! What a sample of the bathos will his history present!
    • 1847, Emily Brontë, chapter XXI, in Wuthering Heights[1]:
      I know what he suffers now, for instance, exactly: it is merely a beginning of what he shall suffer, though. And he’ll never be able to emerge from his bathos of coarseness and ignorance.
    • 2018, Matthew d'Ancona, “The Tories are a party in crisis, their identity in desperate shape”, in Guardian[2]:
      Thus can the ideology of the fringe, the pinstripe mutterings of the nativist few, end up determining the trajectory of an entire nation. This is where bathos meets tragedy.



  • (antonym(s) of "depth"): See depth
  • (antonym(s) of "artistic failure"): pathos
  • (antonym(s) of "nadir"): See nadir


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Further reading[edit]




From Ancient Greek βάθος (báthos, depth).


bathos m (uncountable)

  1. bathos
    Coordinate terms: logos, ethos, pathos

Further reading[edit]