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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 (uncountable)

  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 cliché 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!
    • 2018, Matthew d'Ancona, The Tories are a party in crisis, their identity in desperate shape in the Guardian:[1]
      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.




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