This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Nuts and Bolts: bathos.

Bathos is the pits.

No, really, that's what it means. The pits, as in the depths. It's Greek.

As a language term bathos is when something starts quite loftily and then comes down to earth with a bump (how about that, even in modern English we still use height and depth words to convey this idea. Neat, huh?).

This example of bathos, by 'a Housemaid Poet' is quoted in D.B. Wyndham Lewis and Charles Lee's The Stuffed Owl: An Anthology of Bad Verse.

O Moon, when I gaze on thy beautiful face,
Careering along through the boundaries of space,
The thought has often come into my mind
If I shall ever see thy glorious behind.

Bathos is usually, as in the example above, unintended. Here's a brand new example I came across just the other day. It's from the IKEA furniture catalogue.
 This sofa can easily suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. It has a removable machine washable cover.
That one's been making me laugh for days.

Nuts and Bolts: bathos. This word comes from the Greek bathus, which means deep. The term is said to have been first used in its current literary sense by Alexander Pope in his treatise Peri Bathous; or, The Art of Sinking in Poetry (1728).

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