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First attested in 1758; formed as pathetic +‎ -ism.


patheticism (usually uncountable, plural patheticisms)

  1. pathetic behaviour
    • 1758, An Addreſs to the Great Man, pages 46–47
      And can there be a properer Æra for the Revival of Genius and Public Spirit than that of the Ad———n of the Great Man who has been recommended by the One to his diſtreſſed and aged K—g, (ſo familiarly ventures to ſpeak the Patheticiſm of Loyalty) and endeared to his exulting Fellow-Subjects by the Other; and to whom, ſhould we be unhappily and unexpectedly diſappointed, we have a Right to complain, in the Words of Tacitus, that “Succeſſere magis alii Homines quam alii Mores!”
    • 1880, Thomas Guthrie, William Garden Blaikie, and Benjamin Waugh (editors), The Sunday Magazine (Strahan & Co.), volume 9, page 100
      A quaint patheticism attends the diminution of obdurate winters with old people, whose excitements half a century ago were less recurrent and longer-lived than with a younger generation.
    • 1953, Lionel Charles Knights and Frank Raymond Leavis (editors), Scrutiny (Deighton, Bell and Co.), volume 16, page 309
      Milly’s witticism sounds a little like Catherine Sloper, but one may, for the measure of distance between the two novels, compare the reality and significant meaning one senses behind Catherine’s little patheticisms with the uninteresting, dull inertness of Milly’s response.
    • 2011 July 5th, David Firth, Take This Pill: Health Reminder, Lesson 2, 1:47–1:54 and 2:14–2:27
      It seems our nurse contracted melodram patheticism from a nervous dog. Silly old cow.
      Does this look familiar? Are you all weak and pathetic? Do you fear woodlice or splashes from the toilet? Maybe you too have a belt of the old melodram patheticism.
    • For more examples of usage of this term, see Citations:patheticism.