Pathos is a quality that stirs emotions. A song with a lot of pathos hits you right in the heart.

You ever notice how some songs or movies appeal to your brains, while others appeal to your feelings? The ones that are all about feeling are full of pathos, an appeal to emotions that originally meant “suffering” in Greek. Often, this word has to do specifically with pity and sympathy: when someone tells a story about people suffering that makes you feel for them, that’s pathos.

Definitions of pathos
  1. noun

    a quality that arouses emotions (especially pity or sorrow)

    “the film captured all the
    pathos of their situation”
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    type of:


    an essential and distinguishing attribute of something or someone

  2. noun

    a feeling of sympathy and sorrow for the misfortunes of others

    commiseration, pity, ruth
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    type of:

    fellow feeling, sympathy

    sharing the feelings of others (especially feelings of sorrow or anguish)

  3. noun

    a style that has the power to evoke feelings

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    type of:

    expressive style, style

    a way of expressing something (in language or art or music etc.) that is characteristic of a particular person or group of people or period

Word Family