Definition of bathos in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈbāTHäs/


(Especially in a work of literature) an effect of anticlimax created by an unintentional lapse in mood from the sublime to the trivial or ridiculous.
Example sentences
  • But in fact, despite my scientific interest in describing languages as they actually are, I am as free as anyone else to have negative reactions to unintentional bathos or unhelpful confusion caused by bad writing.
  • Not everything he does works, but Antopolski deliberately uses anticlimax and bathos in his material.
  • To Swan's credit, she deftly skirts sentimentality; there is plenty of sentiment, but no bathos.
anticlimax, letdown, disappointment, disillusionment;
informal comedown


Mid 17th century (first recorded in the Greek sense): from Greek, literally 'depth'. The current sense was introduced by Alexander Pope in the early 18th century.

  • This is a Greek word and was first recorded in English in the literal Greek sense ‘depth’. The literary sense was introduced by Alexander Pope in the early 18th century. He published the Bathos in the Miscellanies (third volume) in 1728, which was a lively satire giving descriptions of bad authors, identified by initials. Bathyspere [1930] for a spherical chamber that can be lowered into the depths of the sea, comes from the same source.

Words that rhyme with bathos


For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ba·thos

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.