Word of the Day


audio pronunciation
September 19, 2011
: tragic flaw
Greed was the hamartia that ultimately brought down the protagonist.

"Kara Swisher, the co-executive editor of All Things D, also pointed out that being on TBS might be Conan's hamartia." -- From an article about Conan O'Brien by Michelle Castillo on CBSNEWS.com, August 23, 2011
Get the Word of the Day direct to your inbox — subscribe today!
Did You Know?
"Harmartia" arose from the Greek verb "hamartanein," meaning "to miss the mark" or "to err." Aristotle introduced the term in the Poetics to describe the error of judgment which ultimately brings about the tragic hero's downfall. As you can imagine, the word is most often found in literary criticism. However, news writers occasionally employ the word when discussing the unexplainable misfortune or missteps of übercelebrities regarded as immortal gods and goddesses before being felled by their own shortcomings.

Test Your Vocabulary: What is the meaning of "bildungsroman"? The answer is ...
More Words of the Day
Visit our archives to see previous selections.
How to use a word that (literally) drives some people nuts.
Test your vocab with our fun, fast game
Ailurophobia, and 9 other unusual fears