What Is the Meaning of Logos, Ethos & Pathos?

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By Mike Virgintino, eHow Contributor

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Oral and written arguments are meant to be persuasive. The audience must understand the arguer's viewpoint, or rhetoric, before accepting the premise of the argument. Greek philosopher Aristotle separated the means of rhetoric into three categories--ethos, logos and pathos. Aristotle was born in 384 B.C. in Stagirus, a seaport on the coast of Thrace. As a teenager, he was sent to Athens and studied under Plato. When he began to lecture, Aristotle focused on the subject of rhetoric.


Ethos, or the ethical appeal of the argument, represents credibility. The person delivering the argument must be trustworthy and respected as an expert who has knowledge about the issue in contention. This person must impress upon the audience his position of authority and integrity.

Ethos Explained

"Ethos" is Greek for "character." It is communicated through the tone and style of the message along with the way a writer or speaker references various views or opinions. Character also can be influenced by the arguer's reputation, which is independent from the message.


Logos refers to any attempt to appeal to the intellect, and it is the general meaning of a "logical argument." Academic arguments rely on logos. Logical connections of reasoning are needed to support all positions.

Logos Explained

"Logos" is Greek for "logic." It persuades through reasoning, including deductive and inductive reasoning. Attaching reasons to an opinion is the key method of arguing.


Pathos is associated with emotion, such as appealing to an audience's sympathies and imagination. One common way to convey a pathetic appeal is through a narrative or a story that communicates an abstract lesson or meaning through a concrete experience. Values, beliefs and understandings of the arguer are implied and communicated to the audience through the story.

Pathos Explained...
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