Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An abrupt, unintended transition in style from the exalted to the commonplace, producing a ludicrous effect.
  • n. An anticlimax.
  • n. Insincere or grossly sentimental pathos: "a richly textured man who . . . can be . . . sentimental to the brink of bathos” ( Kenneth L. Woodward).
  • n. Banality; triteness.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Depth, bottom.
  • n. An abrupt change in style, usually from high to low; an unintended transition of style; an anticlimax.
  • n. Triteness; triviality; banality.
  • n. Overly sentimental and exaggerated pathos.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A ludicrous descent from the elevated to the low, in writing or speech; anticlimax.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Depth; lowest part or stage; bottom.
  • n. A ludicrous descent from the elevated to the commonplace or ridiculous in writing or speech; a sinking; anticlimax.
  • n. Synonyms Fustian, Turgidness, etc. See bombast.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. triteness or triviality of style
  • n. a change from a serious subject to a disappointing one
  • n. insincere pathos

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Greek, depth, from bathus, deep.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Ancient Greek βάθος (bathos, "depth"). Used metaphorically from 1638 (Robert Sanderson). First used ironically by Pope (Bathos, 1727), in contrast to ὕψος (hypsos, "sublimity").

Examples

  • Longinus's warning against bathos is a dangerous one for those who would take it too much to heart.

    On the Sublime

  • "'Frisco Kid's Story" (Aegis, 15 February 1895) is mawkish and sentimental, a lesson in bathos and in how not to handle dialect (that is, by employing an abundance of it).

    The woe of an aspiring genius.

  • Despite the rad profile, nest was as knee-deep in bathos and bourgeois denial as any other shelter mag.

    Home Alone

  • I think the correct term is "bathos" - an abrupt, unintended transition in style from the exalted to the commonplace, producing a ludicrous effect.

    politicalbetting.com

  • Blurb bathos is a killer, because it’s actually really fun and easy to be blurb bathetic in the same way it’s fun and easy to write a bathetic poem.

    About Reviews : Ange Mlinko : Harriet the Blog : The Poetry Foundation

  • In less skillful hands, the plot — and there is a good, strong plot — might have foundered in bathos, but Dean adroitly sticks to the high road; although she afflicts her characters with terminal cancer, Alzheimer’s, alcoholism, and adultery, these trials, rather than defining the people who suffer them, serve to reveal their fiber.

    New Fiction

  • Like Browning, he wrote too much to write well at all times, and if both poets were capable of the sublimest flights, they likewise descended to unimagined depths; but the fault of Wordsworth was perhaps the greater, because his bathos was the result of a deliberate and persistent attempt to enrich English poetry with prosaically versified incidents drawn at length from homely rural life.

    Early Reviews of English Poets

  • It insists that men should not mistake, as they are prone to mistake, their natural taste for the bathos for a relish for the sublime; and if statesmen, either [lvi] with their tongue in their cheek or through a generous impulsiveness, tell them their natural taste for the bathos is a relish for the sublime, there is the more need for culture to tell them the contrary.

    Culture and Anarchy

  • Drudge may have drawn a record number of visitors in October, but this kind of bathos may explain why the site's pull is not what it used to be.

    Drudge Flippant on Election Eve: Christopher Bateman

  • It's important to emphasize that this isn't some simpering "oh gosh, life sure was swell then" nostaliga piece -- his wisftulness is well tempered with the knowledge of how such feelings can easily lead to a pathetic bathos, sentimentalism or worse.

    Robot reviews: George Sprott | Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources – Covering Comic Book News and Entertainment

Comments

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  • Yep. /ˈbeɪθɒs, -θɔs, -θoʊs/

    December 31, 2008

  • Bay-thoss

    December 31, 2008

  • "I never should have used the word bathos"

    December 31, 2008

  • Life was so much more amusing when I thought the first syllable of this word rhymed with 'bath.' Hrmph.

    October 20, 2008

  • from the sublime to the ridiculous

    June 22, 2008