Ethos Pathos Logos – Definition, Meanings and Examples

Ethos Pathos Logos

Ethos Pathos Logos


Ethos Pathos Logos are terms that refer to the three modes of persuasion in rhetoric, as defined by the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle. They are often used to analyze and create arguments in speeches, advertisements, articles, and various forms of communication.


This is an appeal to ethics. Ethos is about establishing your authority to speak on the subject, credibility, integrity, and moral character. In essence, it’s about getting your audience to trust you and your perspective.


This is an appeal to emotion. Pathos is about getting an emotional response from your audience. It could be through storytelling, vivid language, or emotional triggers. The goal is to make the audience feel something, as people are often more motivated by their emotions than by pure logic.


This is an appeal to logic. Logos is about persuading your audience using logical arguments and supportive evidence. It involves reasoning, facts, data, statistics, and sound arguments.

Ethos Pathos Logos Meaning

TermOriginEnglish Rhetorical Meaning
EthoscharacterRefers to the credibility or ethical character of the speaker or writer. It’s about establishing trust and authority, demonstrating that the speaker or writer is reliable and knowledgeable about the topic at hand.
Pathossuffering or experienceRefers to an appeal to the audience’s emotions. It’s about stirring feelings—whether that’s joy, fear, pity, love, or any other strong emotion—in order to persuade.
Logosword related to logic or reasonRefers to the use of logic, facts, evidence, or reason in an argument. It’s about constructing a clear, rational case to persuade your audience.

History of Ethos Pathos Logos

The rhetorical concepts of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos have been central to Western rhetoric since ancient Greece. They were first fully articulated by the Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BCE) in the 4th century BCE, specifically in his work, “Rhetoric”.

Aristotle (384-322 BCE)

Aristotle, a student of Plato, is considered one of the greatest philosophers of all time. He wrote on a variety of subjects, including metaphysics, logic, ethics, aesthetics, poetry, theatre, music, rhetoric, politics, and biology. In his work, “Rhetoric,” he developed a model of communication that remains influential today.

Rhetoric (around 350 BCE)

In “Rhetoric,” Aristotle introduces three modes of persuasion: Ethos, Pathos, and Logos.

  • Ethos refers to the speaker’s character or credibility. Aristotle believed that if an audience trusts and respects the speaker, they are more likely to be persuaded. The speaker’s authority or ethical appeal is often established through their reputation, their delivery, or through demonstrating their knowledge or expertise on the topic at hand.
  • Pathos refers to the emotional appeal of the argument. By appealing to the audience’s emotions, speakers can persuade them to accept their point of view. This could involve evoking feelings of pity, fear, anger, or even happiness.
  • Logos refers to the logical appeal of the argument. This involves using reasoning, evidence, facts, or a well-constructed argument to persuade the audience. Aristotle believed that an argument should be clear, consistent, and logical to be persuasive.

Later Developments

After Aristotle, these concepts continued to be a central part of rhetorical studies. The Roman rhetorician Cicero (106-43 BCE) further developed Aristotle’s ideas, emphasizing the importance of style and delivery, as well as the role of humor in persuasion.

During the Renaissance, rhetoric regained its importance as an academic discipline. The concepts of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos were taught as part of the trivium – a classical curriculum comprising grammar, logic, and rhetoric.

In the 20th and 21st centuries, the Aristotelian concepts of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos continue to be key elements of rhetorical theory and are taught in rhetoric and communication courses. They are also applied in various fields, including law, advertising, politics, and public speaking.

Examples of Ethos Pathos Logos

Ethos Pathos Logos examples are as follows:

Example of Ethos

An advertisement for an investment product features a renowned economist explaining why he thinks it’s a smart buy. The use of a respected, credentialed professional to endorse the product is an example of an appeal to ethos.

Example of Pathos

A public service announcement on smoking shows images of a young man with a tracheotomy coughing in a hospital bed, while his child looks on sadly. The ad is using an emotional appeal (pathos) to persuade smokers to quit for their own health and for the sake of their families.

Example of Logos

A nonprofit organization lobbying for climate change policies presents a detailed report with extensive data showing rising temperatures, increased frequency of natural disasters, and correlations with carbon emissions. They are using logos by providing factual evidence to support their argument.

Purpose of Ethos Pathos Logos

They serve specific purposes in an argument or a piece of persuasive communication:

  • Ethos: The purpose of ethos is to establish the speaker’s or writer’s credibility, reliability, and authority on a subject matter. By doing so, the speaker or writer can build trust with the audience, making them more likely to accept the argument. If the audience believes the speaker is trustworthy and knowledgeable, they are more likely to be convinced by what they say.
  • Pathos: The purpose of pathos is to engage the audience’s emotions and values. By triggering feelings such as sympathy, fear, joy, anger, etc., the speaker or writer can motivate the audience to care about the issue at hand and potentially sway them towards their perspective. People are often moved to action by their emotions, making pathos a powerful persuasive tool.
  • Logos: The purpose of logos is to appeal to the audience’s sense of reason and logic. By presenting clear, rational arguments supported by evidence and logical reasoning, the speaker or writer aims to convince the audience that their viewpoint is sound and well-founded. When an argument makes logical sense and is supported by reliable evidence, people are more likely to agree with it.

When to use Ethos Pathos Logos

The use of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos often depends on the context, the nature of the argument, and the audience you are trying to persuade. They can be used individually or in combination. Here are some guidelines on when to use each one:

  • Ethos: Ethos is particularly effective when the speaker or writer needs to establish their credibility or demonstrate their expertise on a subject. This might be particularly important in formal settings or in professional or academic discussions. For example, a professor might employ ethos when arguing for a particular theory in their field of study, or a CEO might use ethos when explaining a company’s strategy to shareholders.
  • Pathos: Pathos can be used when the goal is to evoke emotions in the audience to garner support or provoke action. This is often effective in speeches, advertising, or charity appeals where emotional engagement is key to motivating the audience. For instance, a charity organization might use pathos in their campaigns to evoke empathy and encourage donations.
  • Logos: Logos is most effective when the audience values factual and logical arguments. This approach is often used in scientific or academic discussions, legal arguments, or business decisions where data and logic are crucial. For example, a lawyer might use logos when presenting evidence in court, or a scientist might use logos when presenting their research findings.

In many situations, a combination of ethos, pathos, and logos can be most effective. For example, a politician might use ethos to establish their credibility, pathos to connect emotionally with the audience, and logos to provide logical support for their policies.

Advantages of Ethos Pathos Logos

Ethos, Pathos, and Logos are fundamental rhetorical strategies for persuasion, and each offers distinct advantages in different contexts. Here are some advantages associated with each strategy:

  • Ethos:
    • Credibility: Ethos can establish the speaker’s or writer’s credibility, which can make the audience more receptive to the argument being presented.
    • Trust: By establishing a sense of reliability and authority, ethos can foster trust between the speaker or writer and the audience. This trust can make the audience more likely to accept the argument.
    • Professionalism: Ethos can give a sense of professionalism to the argument, adding weight to the speaker’s or writer’s points and making the argument appear more sophisticated.
  • Pathos:
    • Emotional Connection: Pathos can create an emotional connection between the audience and the speaker or writer. This can make the audience more engaged with the argument.
    • Motivation: Pathos can motivate the audience to take action. By evoking strong emotions, pathos can inspire the audience to do something in response to the argument.
    • Memorability: Emotional experiences are often more memorable than purely factual ones. An argument that successfully uses pathos can stick in the audience’s mind for longer.
  • Logos:
    • Clarity: Logos can bring clarity to an argument by providing concrete facts, data, and logical reasoning.
    • Persuasiveness: If the audience values logic and evidence, logos can be highly persuasive.
    • Objectivity: By using data and logic, logos can make an argument seem more

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Muhammad Hassan

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