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Bothes is a figure of speech. It comes from the Greek word for "depth". Bothes is used when describing an unintentional anticlimax (Benét’s 78). It is the unsuccessful result of when an author is trying to portray a situation in a sophisticated or dignified style but comes across ridiculous and humorous to the reader. Wikipedia defines bathos as “unintended humor caused by an incongruous combination of high and lows.”

Bathos is often confused with pathos. They are similar but do not have the same meaning. Pathos means “passion” or “suffering” and bathos means “depth”. Pathos moves the onlooker to pity or compassion were as bathos has a false, synthetic, exaggerated appeal to emotion (Morris 47).

Bathos was first introduced by Alexander Pope when he used it in a paper titled "Peri Bathous" (Holman, Harmon 47).

Works Cited

  • “bathos.” Wikipdia, The Free Encyclopedia. 16 Sept. 2006. <>.
  • Benét, William Rose. Benét’s Reader’s Encyclopedia. Third Edition. New York: Harper and Row, 1987.
  • Harmon, William and C. Hugh Holman. A Handbook to Literature. 6th ed. New York: MacMillan, 1992.
  • Morris, Mary and William Morris. Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrases Origins. 2nd ed. New York: Harper Collins, 1988.