[pey-thos, -thohs, -thaws]


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 confusedbathos pathos Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pathos

Contemporary Examples of pathos

Historical Examples of pathos

  • 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 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 pitya stab of pathos

Word Origin for pathos

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

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