About

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From Wordspy:

hathos
(HAY.thohs; TH as in thin) n. Feelings of pleasure derived from hating someone or something.
hathotic adj.

hathos (hay’thos) n., pl. double hathos A pleasurable sense of loathing, or a loathing sense of pleasure, aroused by certain schlocky, schmaltzy or just- plain-bad show-business personalities: “Hearing the audience applaud when Dr. Joyce Brothers told Merv Griffin that, aside from being a brilliant comedienne, Charo is a ‘genius on the classical guitar’ filled me with hathos.” [American: hate/happy pathos lachrymose (?)] — ha-thot-ic adj.
—Alex Heard, “Beyond Hate: The Giddy Thrill of Hathos,” The Washington Post, May 17, 1987

3 responses to “About

  1. Hey–

    This is Alex Heard, coiner of the word “hathos.”

    Great Web site. Could you do me a favor at some point and post some additional info about the origins of the word?

    It was actually invented on Super Bowl Sunday in 1985. That night I had to write a New Republic article about Frank Sinatra’s cranky attitude toward the media when he was coordinating Reagan’s second inaugural “gala.” He got miffed about a story in the Washington Post and said to a group of reporters, “You read The Post this afternoon? You’re all dead, every one of you. You’re all dead.”

    I was trying to think of a word that describes that cringe-y feeling you get when celebs go AWOL. I was at a Super Bowl-watching party with various people, including a guy from Kansas named Scott Richardson who worked as a press aide on the Hill at the time. We started tossing ideas around and eventually came up with hathos, which basically combined hate + pathos to form a word that had a new meaning all its own.

    Scott and I have “debated” over the years who actually thought of the word. I think I did, he thinks he did. I was drinking more that day, so … there’s a decent chance he’s right. In any event, he was definitely the co-creator of the word and concept, and he should get credit for this important (?) addition to the language.

    People often ask me to recommend movies that will, without fail, deliver hathos, so they can check to see if their hathos gland is working. I always cite these two old classics:

    “Funny About Love,” a dramatic comedy with Gene Wilder and Christine Lahti.

    “Modern Love.” Robby Benson and Karla DeVito. Benson “auteured” this film … which was a “labor of love.”

    If you watch these and don’t feel it, you need to find another hobby …

    Keep up the good work!

    Alex Heard

  2. My husband and I were newlyweds, and living abroad, when Alex Heard introduced this priceless neologism. So I missed it altogether.

    Like our enterprising Hathos blogger, I too was introduced to the word only via Sully’s blog. I had to google the term.

    I was delighted to learn not only its meaning but also that I knew Alex Heard, the neologizer himself!

    Hathos readers should know that Alex, a journalist of note, is also the author of a wonderful book about nutty millenarian types, IIRC, at the approach of the 21st century, called Apocalypse Pretty Soon. Still in print.

    Congratulations on a fine blog, helping to keep hathos at bay.

  3. Great site! I too am an avid Andrew Sullivan reader and loved his holiday hathos series this year. You have indeed taken it to the next level… not only in the holiday season — but in life! Kudos to you!

    I’ve added The Hathos to my blogroll. Keep up the great work!

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