hu·​bris | \ ˈhyü-brəs How to pronounce hubris (audio) \

Definition of hubris

: exaggerated pride or self-confidence

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Other Words from hubris

hubristic \ hyü-​ˈbri-​stik How to pronounce hubristic (audio) \ adjective

Hubris Comes From Ancient Greece

English picked up both the concept of hubris and the term for that particular brand of cockiness from the ancient Greeks, who considered hubris a dangerous character flaw capable of provoking the wrath of the gods. In classical Greek tragedy, hubris was often a fatal shortcoming that brought about the fall of the tragic hero. Typically, overconfidence led the hero to attempt to overstep the boundaries of human limitations and assume a godlike status, and the gods inevitably humbled the offender with a sharp reminder of his or her mortality.

Did You Know?

To the Greeks, hubris referred to extreme pride, especially pride and ambition so great that they offend the gods and lead to one's downfall. Hubris was a character flaw often seen in the heroes of classical Greek tragedy, including Oedipus and Achilles. The familiar old saying "Pride goeth before a fall" is basically talking about hubris.

Examples of hubris in a Sentence

When conceived it was a project of almost unimaginable boldness and foolhardiness, requiring great bravura, risking great hubris. — Simon Winchester, The Professor and the Madman, 1998 If you were born Somewhere, hubris would come easy. But if you are Nowhere's child, hubris is an import, pride a thing you decide to acquire. — Sarah Vowell, GQ, May 1998 … our belief in democracy regardless of local conditions amounts to cultural hubris. — Robert D. Kaplan, Atlantic, December 1997 His failure was brought on by his hubris.
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Recent Examples on the Web The nine-episode series is a maze-like and mind-bending exploration of racial trauma, police violence, national hubris and the sins of the past. NBC News, "What to stream during your coronavirus self-quarantine," 17 Mar. 2020 And while voters gave Warren the cold shoulder, the pandemic has highlighted how her penchant for preparation and planning would be preferable to Trump's mix of magical thinking and hubris. Joel Mathis, TheWeek, "What would Warren do?," 7 Apr. 2020 The hubris of adults trying to protect their power, at the expense of victims, came with a price. Ann Killion,, "‘At the Heart of Gold’: Larry Nassar scandal documentary will make you rage," 6 Nov. 2019 In myth, the Furies were known for tormenting those who turn on their creators—children against parents, usually, but it's been argued that the film's alien is serving a similar purpose, punishing the hubris of humanity. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Alien’s origin story chestbursts anew in stirring new documentary," 11 Oct. 2019 Jeff Bezos Was Jealous of Elon Musk (Bloomberg Businessweek) Determined to meet Bezos’s demand for Tesla-size government handouts, the HQ2 team became victims of their own hubris. Adam Lashinsky, Fortune, "Uber still isn’t a business built to last," 7 Feb. 2020 Their story, outlined here for the first time, depicts a team that became the victim of its own hubris. Bloomberg Wire, Dallas News, "Behind Amazon’s HQ2 fiasco, Jeff Bezos wanted incentives like Elon Musk’s," 3 Feb. 2020 There were early signs of hubris: Volkswagen paid its chief executive officer 17.5 million euros ($19.3 million) in 2011. Chris Bryant | Bloomberg, Washington Post, "Germany’s Car Jobs Boom Comes to a Screeching Halt," 2 Dec. 2019 In the 1970s the cultural critic Ivan Illich identified medical hubris as a key problem for modern societies. Robert Dingwall, Wired, "We Should Deescalate the War on the Coronavirus," 29 Jan. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hubris.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of hubris

1884, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for hubris

Greek hybris

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Time Traveler for hubris

Time Traveler

The first known use of hubris was in 1884

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Last Updated

9 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Hubris.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for hubris


How to pronounce hubris (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of hubris

formal + literary : a great or foolish amount of pride or confidence

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