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.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I'm slipping into bathos at record speed here tonight; a function of happiness, I suppose.’
    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.