Pathos vs Melancholy - What's the difference?

pathos | melancholy |

As nouns the difference between pathos and melancholy

is that pathos is pathos while melancholy is (historical) black bile, formerly thought to be one of the four "cardinal humours" of animal bodies.

As an adjective melancholy is

affected with great sadness or depression.




  • The quality or property of anything which touches the feelings or excites emotions and passions, especially that which awakens tender emotions, such as pity, sorrow, and the like; contagious warmth of feeling, action, or expression; pathetic quality.
  • * 1874 , Thomas Hardy, Far From The Madding Crowd, 1874:
  • His voice had a genuine pathos now, and his large brown hands perceptibly trembled.
  • (rhetoric) A writer or speaker's attempt to persuade an audience through appeals involving the use of strong emotions such as pity.
  • (literature) An author's attempt to evoke a feeling of pity or sympathetic sorrow for a character.
  • (theology, philosophy) In theology and existentialist ethics following Kierkegaard and Heidegger, a deep and abiding commitment of the heart, as in the notion of "finding your passion" as an important aspect of a fully lived, engaged life.
  • Anagrams

    * ----




    (en adjective)
  • Affected with great sadness or depression.
  • * {{quote-book, year=1922, author=(Ben Travers), title=(A Cuckoo in the Nest)
  • , chapter=1 citation , passage=“[…] the awfully hearty sort of Christmas cards that people do send to other people that they don't know at all well. You know. The kind that have mottoes


    * (thoughtful sadness) (l) * See also


  • (historical) Black bile, formerly thought to be one of the four "cardinal humours" of animal bodies.
  • *, Bk.I, New York 2001, p.148:
  • Melancholy , cold and dry, thick, black, and sour,is a bridle to the other two hot humours, blood and choler, preserving them in the blood, and nourishing the bones.
  • Great sadness or depression, especially of a thoughtful or introspective nature.
  • * 1593 , (William Shakespeare), , V. i. 34:
  • My mind was troubled with deep melancholy .