Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A quality, as of an experience or a work of art, that arouses feelings of pity, sympathy, tenderness, or sorrow.
  • n. The feeling, as of sympathy or pity, so aroused.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. That quality or property of anything which touches the feelings or excites emotions and passions, esp., that which awakens tender emotions, such as pity, sorrow, and the like; contagious warmth of feeling, action, or expression; pathetic quality.
  • n. A writer's attempt to persuade an audience through appeals involving the use of strong emotions not strictly limited to pity.
  • n. An author's attempt to evoke a feeling of pity or sympathetic sorrow for a character.
  • n. In theology and existentialist ethics following Kierkegaard and Heidegger, a deep and abiding commitment of the heart, as in the notion of "finding your passion" as an important aspect of a fully lived, engaged life.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. That quality or property of anything which touches the feelings or excites emotions and passions, esp., that which awakens tender emotions, such as pity, sorrow, and the like; contagious warmth of feeling, action, or expression; pathetic quality.
  • n. The quality or character of those emotions, traits, or experiences which are personal, and therefore restricted and evanescent; transitory and idiosyncratic dispositions or feelings as distinguished from those which are universal and deep-seated in character; -- opposed to ethos.
  • n. Suffering; the enduring of active stress or affliction.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. That quality or character, as of a speech, an expression of the countenance, a work of art, etc., which awakens the emotion of pity, compassion, or sympathy; a power or influence that moves or touches the feelings; feeling.
  • n. Specifically In art, the quality of the personal, ephemeral, emotional, or sensual, as opposed to that, of the ideal, or ethos.
  • n. Suffering.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a style that has the power to evoke feelings
  • n. a feeling of sympathy and sorrow for the misfortunes of others
  • n. a quality that arouses emotions (especially pity or sorrow)

Etymologies

Greek, suffering; see kwent(h)- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Ancient Greek πάθος (pathos, "suffering"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • It is the one great weakness of Dickens as a great writer, that he did try to make that sudden sadness, that abrupt pity, which we call pathos, a thing quite obvious, infectious, public, as if it were journalism or the measles.

    Appreciations and Criticisms of the Works of Charles Dickens

  • But in place of Hardy's pathos is a perverse little smile that's blessedly contagious.

    'Tamara' And 'Funny Story': Uneasy, But Amusing

  • My central contention with regard to these writers 'pessimistic conceptions of freedom and their overall anti-modern pathos is that we ought to read them less as a separate current opposing the dominant narrative of nineteenth-century liberalism and its identification with rights, institutions, and the competitive individualism they foster than as a

    The Melancholic Gift: Freedom in Nineteenth-Century Philosophy and Fiction

  • Prep — a real novel, not the result of a sales-team brainstorm — derives much of its pathos from the fact that the main character is never sure whether the boy she loves so much, and has had so many sexual encounters with, might actually constitute that magical, bygone character: her “boyfriend.”

    What Girls Want

  • No other show has sought, as its central mission, to mine comedy and pathos from the experience of aging baby boomers.

    September 2006

  • The pathos is sweet, deep and genuine; tender, simple and true, utterly unlike much of our modern tinsel.

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

  • Morrison nails the essential pathos from the get go.

    Archive 2006-02-01

  • Taking full advantage, he produced an entire cliché-defying book — one that despite a built-in pathos had an overwhelmingly prankish tone.

    A Close Read

  • I read that with a certain pathos — I mean the pathos was mine, not yours.

    Site Three: Use, Pedagogy, and Addiction.

  • The motion of pathos is a counterpart to our esthetic emotion's intentions when we experience a work of art.

    Jaroslav Seifert - Nobel Lecture

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