bathos

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ba·thos / ˈbā[unvoicedth]äs/ • n. (esp. in a work of literature) an effect of anticlimax created by an unintentional lapse in mood from the sublime to the trivial or ridiculous. DERIVATIVES: ba·thet·ic / bəˈ[unvoicedth]etik/ adj. ORIGIN: mid 17th cent. (first recorded in the Greek sense): from Greek, literally ‘depth.’ The current sense was introduced by Alexander Pope in the early 18th cent.

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BATHOS. A term in RHETORIC for a ludicrous ANTICLIMAX: ‘For God, for country, and for Acme Gasworks’ (Random House Dictionary, 1987). Satire is often deliberately bathetic; in Swift's Gulliver's Travels (1726), the real-life disputes of Protestants and Catholics are presented as a Lilliputian war in which Big-Endians and Little-Endians fight over where to open a boiled egg.

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bathos XVIII. — Gr. báthos depth, f. bathús deep.
Hence bathetic XIX; after pathos, pathetic.