Definition of bathos in US English:



  • (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.

    ‘his epic poem has passages of almost embarrassing bathos’
    ‘a nice balance between the colloquial, which might have led to bathos, and an over-polished style’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Next thing you know, they'll be using dramatic irony, metaphor, bathos, puns, parody, litotes and… satire.’
    • ‘I'm slipping into bathos at record speed here tonight; a function of happiness, I suppose.’
    • ‘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.’
    anticlimax, let-down, disappointment, disillusionment
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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.