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Created by: Team English -, Last Updated: April 25, 2024


Pathos, a persuasive technique, harnesses emotions to sway an audience. It elicits empathy, compassion, or sympathy, aiming to forge a profound emotional connection. By evoking these sentiments, speakers or writers can engage their audience on a visceral level, appealing to their humanity and shared experiences. Pathos is a potent tool in rhetoric, literature, and advertising, capable of stirring profound responses and influencing attitudes or behaviors. Its effectiveness lies in its ability to tap into universal emotions, compelling individuals to empathize with the message being conveyed and, consequently, to act or think in alignment with the communicator’s objectives.

What is a Pathos?

Pathos is an emotional appeal technique employed in persuasion, literature, and advertising. It aims to evoke empathy, compassion, or sympathy in the audience, forging a deep emotional connection. By tapping into universal emotions, it influences attitudes and behaviors, compelling individuals to align with the communicator’s objectives. Pathos leverages shared experiences to elicit powerful responses, making it a potent tool for engaging and persuading audiences.

Function of Pathos

The function of pathos is to evoke emotions such as empathy, sympathy, or compassion in the audience. By appealing to these emotions, pathos seeks to create a connection between the audience and the message being conveyed. This emotional connection can influence attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors, making pathos a powerful tool for persuasion, storytelling, and communication. It helps to engage the audience on a deeper level and create a lasting impact.

Pronunciation of Pathos

The word “pathos” is pronounced as /ˈpeɪθɒs/.

It consists of two syllables, with the emphasis placed on the first syllable.

  • The first syllable, “path,” is pronounced like “payth,” where the “a” makes a long “a” sound as in “bay.”
  • The second syllable, “os,” is pronounced like “oss,” similar to the end of “boss.”

When spoken together, “pathos” is pronounced as “PAY-thoss.” This pronunciation guide helps ensure clarity and accuracy when using the word in conversation or presentations.

Synonyms & Antonyms for Pathos

Synonyms & Antonyms for Pathos

Methods of Pathos

Pathos utilizes a variety of methods to appeal to emotions and establish a connection with the audience:

  1. Storytelling: By sharing compelling narratives, speakers or writers can evoke empathy and create an emotional bond with their audience. Personal anecdotes and real-life stories are particularly effective in eliciting emotional responses.
  2. Visual Imagery: Descriptive language that paints vivid mental pictures can evoke strong emotional reactions. By appealing to the audience’s senses through imagery, pathos can heighten emotional engagement and resonance.
  3. Personal Anecdotes: Relating personal experiences allows speakers or writers to connect with the audience on a more intimate level. When individuals share their own struggles, triumphs, or hardships, it can evoke sympathy and compassion from the audience.
  4. Emotional Language: The use of words that evoke specific emotions can deeply impact the audience’s feelings. By carefully selecting language that resonates with the intended emotions, pathos can effectively sway the audience’s perspective or attitude.
  5. Music and Sound Effects: Incorporating music, sound effects, or other auditory elements into presentations or narratives can enhance emotional impact. The use of appropriate audio cues can evoke mood and atmosphere, intensifying the emotional response of the audience.
  6. Visual Media: Utilizing images, videos, or other visual media can evoke powerful emotional responses. Visuals have the ability to convey complex emotions and concepts quickly and effectively, making them a potent tool for eliciting pathos.
  7. Appeals to Shared Values: Highlighting common beliefs, values, or experiences can foster a sense of connection and empathy among the audience. By appealing to shared humanity, pathos can create a sense of solidarity and understanding.
  8. Testimonials: Presenting accounts or testimonials from real people can evoke empathy and sympathy in the audience. Hearing or reading about the experiences of others can make abstract concepts more relatable and emotionally resonant.
  9. Humor: Injecting humor into presentations or narratives can create a positive emotional connection with the audience. Laughter has the power to break down barriers and foster a sense of camaraderie, making it easier to connect with the audience on an emotional level.
  10. Rhetorical Questions: Positing thought-provoking questions that prompt reflection can stimulate emotional responses. Rhetorical questions engage the audience’s intellect and emotions, encouraging them to consider the speaker’s message from a personal perspective.

Pathos vs. Ethos

Pathos VS Ethos
AppealAppeals to emotionsAppeals to credibility
ApproachUses storytelling and vivid languageRelies on expertise and authority
ObjectiveAims to create emotional connectionFocuses on speaker’s trustworthiness
LogicCan be persuasive without logical argumentsRelies on the speaker’s reputation
UsageUsed in advertising, speeches, etc.Common in debates, writing, etc.

Examples of Pathos in Sentences

  1. The sight of the homeless puppy shivering in the cold rain tugged at my heartstrings.
  2. Tearfully recounting her struggles, the elderly woman evoked immense sympathy.
  3. The heartbreaking story of the orphaned child left a lasting impression.
  4. The devastated community coming together after the natural disaster brought tears to my eyes.
  5. The poignant photograph of the soldier saying goodbye to his family evoked strong emotions.
  6. The advertisement featuring starving children stirred compassion and a desire to help.
  7. The tragic tale of lost love in the novel left readers deeply saddened.
  8. The film’s powerful depiction of historical injustices moved audiences to reflect on societal issues.
  9. The impassioned plea of the environmental activist motivated people to take action against climate change.
  10. The speech highlighting the struggles of marginalized communities resonated with listeners, prompting calls for social justice.

Examples of Pathos in literature

  1. In Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” the tragic love story of the two young protagonists evokes deep sympathy and sorrow among readers.
  2. In Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities,” the self-sacrifice of Sydney Carton to save the life of his beloved Lucie Manette stirs powerful emotions in readers.
  3. Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” portrays the injustice and racism faced by African Americans in the 1930s, evoking feelings of empathy and outrage.
  4. John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” explores themes of loneliness and friendship through the characters of George and Lennie, eliciting a sense of sadness and compassion.
  5. J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series depicts the struggles and sacrifices made by characters such as Harry, Hermione, and Ron, evoking both sadness and admiration from readers.
  6. Victor Hugo’s “Les Misérables” tells the story of Jean Valjean’s redemption and the suffering of the poor in 19th-century France, evoking sympathy and compassion for the downtrodden.
  7. Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” delves into the horrors of slavery and the emotional scars it leaves on the characters, evoking profound empathy from readers.
  8. Khaled Hosseini’s “The Kite Runner” explores themes of guilt, redemption, and forgiveness, evoking strong emotions through its portrayal of human frailty and resilience.
  9. Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea” portrays the struggles of an aging fisherman battling against nature, eliciting feelings of admiration and pity for the protagonist.
  10. Charlotte Bronte’s “Jane Eyre” follows the journey of the titular character as she faces adversity and seeks independence, evoking empathy and admiration for her strength and resilience.

Examples of Pathos in Real life

  1. Charity Advertisements: Advertisements featuring images or stories of suffering children or animals aim to evoke feelings of compassion and empathy, encouraging people to donate or support the cause.
  2. Political Speeches: Politicians often use emotional language and personal anecdotes to connect with voters on a deeper level, appealing to their hopes, fears, and values to sway their opinions or garner support.
  3. Memorial Services: During memorial services or ceremonies honoring victims of tragedies, speakers often share heartfelt stories and memories to comfort grieving individuals and unite the community in mourning.
  4. Social Media Campaigns: Social media campaigns advocating for various social causes often utilize emotional appeals, such as personal stories or videos, to raise awareness and mobilize support for change.
  5. Testimonials: Testimonials from individuals who have experienced hardship or benefited from a product or service can evoke feelings of trust and credibility, influencing others’ decisions and behaviors.
  6. Film and Television: Movies, TV shows, and documentaries frequently employ emotional storytelling and character development to evoke a range of emotions in viewers, fostering empathy and understanding for different perspectives and experiences.
  7. Public Appeals: Public appeals for disaster relief, humanitarian aid, or community support often leverage emotional appeals to mobilize resources and aid for those in need, emphasizing the human impact of the situation.
  8. Personal Relationships: In personal relationships, individuals often use emotional appeals to express love, support, or remorse, fostering connection and understanding between partners, friends, or family members.
  9. Marketing and Advertising: Advertisers often use emotional appeals to persuade consumers to buy products or services, tapping into desires, fears, or aspirations to create a strong emotional connection with the brand.
  10. Legal Cases: Lawyers may use emotional appeals, such as victim impact statements or eyewitness testimonies, to sway jurors’ emotions and perceptions in legal cases, influencing trial outcomes.

Examples of Pathos in Writing

  1. Descriptive Scenes: A writer may use vivid descriptions of scenes, such as a child crying alone in a dark alley or an elderly couple holding hands in a hospital room, to evoke emotions of sadness, empathy, or nostalgia in the reader.
  2. Character Development: Authors often create characters with relatable struggles, fears, or vulnerabilities to evoke sympathy and emotional connection from readers. For example, a protagonist overcoming personal obstacles or facing tragic circumstances can elicit strong feelings of empathy and admiration.
  3. Dialogue: Emotional dialogue between characters can evoke a range of emotions in readers, from heartbreak to joy. For instance, a conversation between two lovers parting ways or a confrontation between a parent and child can stir deep emotions and resonate with readers on a personal level.
  4. Flashbacks: Flashbacks or memories of past events can evoke powerful emotions in readers by providing insight into characters’ motivations, regrets, or unresolved conflicts. For example, a character reflecting on a lost love or a traumatic experience can evoke feelings of sadness or empathy in readers.
  5. Symbolism: Writers often use symbolic imagery or motifs to convey deeper emotional themes or messages. For instance, a recurring symbol like a wilting flower or a broken mirror may represent themes of decay, loss, or shattered dreams, evoking poignant emotions in readers.
  6. Conflict and Resolution: The resolution of conflicts in a story, whether internal or external, can evoke strong emotions in readers. For example, a character overcoming a personal struggle or reconciling with a loved one can inspire feelings of triumph, hope, or catharsis in readers.
  7. Themes of Loss or Redemption: Writers may explore themes of loss, grief, or redemption to evoke deep emotional responses from readers. For example, a story about a character’s journey of self-discovery or forgiveness can resonate with readers who have experienced similar struggles or challenges in their own lives.
  8. Foreshadowing: Foreshadowing future events or outcomes can create a sense of anticipation or dread in readers, evoking feelings of suspense, anxiety, or excitement. For example, subtle hints or clues about a character’s fate can foreshadow tragic or unexpected twists in the plot, eliciting strong emotional reactions from readers.
  9. Poetry and Prose: Poets and prose writers often use lyrical language, rhythm, and imagery to evoke emotions in readers. For example, the use of metaphors, similes, and sensory details can create vivid and evocative descriptions that resonate with readers on an emotional level.
  10. Themes of Love and Betrayal: Themes of love, betrayal, and loyalty are common in literature and can evoke a range of emotions in readers. For example, a story about a forbidden romance or a friendship torn apart by betrayal can evoke feelings of passion, heartache, or betrayal in readers.

Examples of Pathos in Advertisement

  1. Animal Shelter Advertisement: An advertisement for an animal shelter may feature images of sad, abandoned animals with captions highlighting their plight and urging viewers to donate or adopt. This appeals to viewers’ emotions of empathy and compassion for animals in need.
  2. Charity Campaign: A charity campaign for a humanitarian organization may use emotional storytelling, such as video testimonials from people affected by poverty or disaster, to evoke feelings of sympathy and motivate viewers to donate or volunteer.
  3. Healthcare Advertisement: A healthcare advertisement may depict scenes of individuals struggling with illness or injury, followed by images of them receiving care or support from healthcare professionals. This appeals to viewers’ emotions of concern and empathy for those facing health challenges.
  4. Anti-Smoking Campaign: An anti-smoking campaign may feature graphic images or videos of the harmful effects of smoking on individuals’ health, such as lung disease or cancer. This appeals to viewers’ emotions of fear and concern for their own well-being, encouraging them to quit smoking.
  5. Children’s Charity: A children’s charity may use images of impoverished or sick children accompanied by heart-wrenching stories of their struggles to evoke feelings of compassion and urgency in viewers, prompting them to support the organization’s cause.
  6. Environmental Conservation Campaign: An environmental conservation campaign may use images of deforestation, pollution, or endangered wildlife to evoke feelings of sadness and concern for the planet’s future, motivating viewers to take action to protect the environment.
  7. Anti-Bullying Campaign: An anti-bullying campaign may feature testimonials from individuals who have experienced bullying, highlighting the emotional toll it takes on victims. This appeals to viewers’ empathy and encourages them to speak out against bullying behavior.
  8. Food Bank Advertisement: A food bank advertisement may depict scenes of hunger and food insecurity in local communities, followed by images of individuals receiving food assistance from the organization. This appeals to viewers’ emotions of empathy and prompts them to support the food bank’s mission.
  9. Public Service Announcement: A public service announcement addressing social issues such as homelessness, domestic violence, or mental health may use emotional storytelling to raise awareness and promote action. This appeals to viewers’ emotions and encourages them to get involved in addressing these issues.
  10. Product Advertisement: Even product advertisements often use emotional appeals to connect with consumers. For example, a commercial for a luxury car may depict scenes of a family bonding during a road trip, appealing to viewers’ emotions of nostalgia, happiness, and desire for connection.

Examples of Pathos in Music

  1. “Hurt” by Johnny Cash: This song, originally written by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, features haunting lyrics and a melancholic melody that evoke feelings of pain, regret, and vulnerability. Johnny Cash’s rendition, recorded near the end of his life, adds an additional layer of pathos as listeners reflect on his own struggles and mortality.
  2. “Someone Like You” by Adele: Adele’s powerful vocals and emotive delivery in this song about heartbreak and longing resonate with listeners, evoking feelings of sadness, nostalgia, and empathy. The poignant lyrics and soulful melody create a deeply emotional experience for listeners.
  3. “Fix You” by Coldplay: Coldplay’s uplifting anthem about offering support and comfort to someone in need strikes a chord with listeners, evoking feelings of empathy, hope, and compassion. The soaring melody and heartfelt lyrics convey a sense of emotional catharsis and solidarity.
  4. “The Sound of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel: This iconic song, with its haunting melody and introspective lyrics, evokes a sense of melancholy and introspection. The themes of isolation, alienation, and the search for meaning resonate with listeners on an emotional level, eliciting feelings of introspection and empathy.
  5. “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen: Leonard Cohen’s timeless ballad, with its haunting melody and poetic lyrics, explores themes of love, loss, and redemption. The emotional depth and spiritual resonance of the song evoke a range of emotions in listeners, from reverence and awe to sadness and longing.
  6. “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton: Written in response to the tragic death of Clapton’s young son, this poignant ballad expresses the artist’s grief and longing for his lost child. The raw emotion and vulnerability in Clapton’s vocals, combined with the tender melody and heartfelt lyrics, evoke a profound sense of sadness and empathy in listeners.
  7. “The River” by Bruce Springsteen: Springsteen’s introspective ballad about the struggles of working-class Americans captures the hardships and dreams of ordinary people. The emotional resonance of the song, with its themes of longing, regret, and resilience, resonates deeply with listeners, evoking feelings of empathy and solidarity.
  8. “Someone You Loved” by Lewis Capaldi: Capaldi’s heartfelt ballad about the pain of lost love and longing for reconciliation strikes a chord with listeners, evoking feelings of sadness, nostalgia, and empathy. The emotional sincerity and vulnerability in Capaldi’s vocals create a deeply moving listening experience.
  9. “Yesterday” by The Beatles: This timeless ballad, with its wistful melody and reflective lyrics, explores themes of regret, nostalgia, and lost love. The emotional depth and universal appeal of the song resonate with listeners of all ages, evoking feelings of introspection and empathy.
  10. “Candle in the Wind” by Elton John: Originally written as a tribute to Marilyn Monroe and later reworked as a tribute to Princess Diana, this emotional ballad captures the bittersweet essence of loss and remembrance. The heartfelt lyrics and poignant melody evoke feelings of sorrow, reverence, and empathy in listeners.

What does your Pathos mean?

Pathos refers to the emotional appeal or persuasion in communication. It involves evoking emotions, such as pity, sympathy, or empathy, to influence an audience’s feelings or attitudes towards a topic.

What is Pathos, logos and ethos?

Pathos, logos, and ethos are rhetorical strategies used to persuade or influence an audience. Pathos appeals to emotions, logos to logic, and ethos to credibility or character of the speaker or writer.

What is the correct meaning of Pathos?

The correct meaning of “pathos” is the emotional appeal or persuasion in communication, aiming to evoke emotions such as pity, sympathy, or empathy to influence an audience’s feelings or attitudes towards a topic.

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