ANTICLIMAX (i.e. the opposite to "climax"), in rhetoric, an abrupt declension (either deliberate or unintended) on the part of a speaker or writer from the dignity of idea which he appeared to be aiming at; as in the following well-known distich: -
"The great Dalhousie, he, the god of war,
Lieutenant-colonel to the earl of Mar."
An anticlimax can be intentionally employed only for a jocular or satiric purpose. It frequently partakes of the nature of antithesis, as -
"Die and endow a college or a cat."
It is often difficult to distinguish between "anticlimax" and "bathos"; but the former is more decidedly a relative term. A whole speech may never rise above the level of bathos; but a climax of greater or less elevation is the necessary antecedent of an anticlimax.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)