Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Etymology Today from M-W: bathetic \buh-THEH-tik
1 : extremely commonplace or trite
2 : characterized by insincere or overdone pathos : excessively sentimental

When English speakers turned "apathy" into "apathetic" in the 1700s, using the suffix "-etic" to turn the noun into the adjective, they modeled it on "pathetic," the adjectival form of "pathos" from Greek "pathçtikos." People also applied that bit of linguistic transformation to coin "bathetic." In the mid-19th century, English speakers added the suffix "-etic" to "bathos," the Greek word for "depth," which has been used in English since the early 1700s and means "triteness" or "excessive sentimentalism." The result: the ideal adjective for the incredibly commonplace or the overly sentimental.

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