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[pey-thos, -thohs, -thaws] /ˈpeɪ θɒs, -θoʊs, -θɔs/
the quality or power in an actual life experience or in literature, music, speech, or other forms of expression, of evoking a feeling of pity, or of sympathetic and kindly sorrow or compassion.
Obsolete. suffering.
Origin of pathos
1570-80; < Greek páthos suffering, sensation, akin to páschein to suffer
Can be confused
bathos, pathos. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for pathos
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Into these last words there crept the pathos of one who knew.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • They have left here the marks of tragedy, of pathos, or of joy.

    Tiverton Tales Alice Brown
  • Our disaster was too awful, and the pathos of that solitary survivor too piercing.

    The Comrade In White W. H. Leathem
  • The poem is full of pathos and humour; full of beauty and grandeur, earnestness and truth.

    A Dish Of Orts George MacDonald
  • Her beautiful eyes, so full of pathos, so full of remorse, looked straight into his.

    The Law-Breakers Ridgwell Cullum
British Dictionary definitions for pathos


the quality or power, esp in literature or speech, of arousing feelings of pity, sorrow, etc
a feeling of sympathy or pity: a stab of pathos
Word Origin
C17: from Greek: suffering; related to penthos sorrow
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for pathos

"quality that arouses pity or sorrow," 1660s, from Greek pathos "suffering, feeling, emotion, calamity," literally "what befalls one," related to paskhein "to suffer," and penthos "grief, sorrow;" from PIE root *kwent(h)- "to suffer, endure" (cf. Old Irish cessaim "I suffer," Lithuanian kenčiu "to suffer," pakanta "patience").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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