hu·​bris ˈhyü-brəs How to pronounce hubris (audio)
: exaggerated pride or self-confidence
hubristic adjective

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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 their mortality.

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.
Recent Examples on the Web The Character All Of It Billionaire Quek Leng Chan’s Hong Leong, TPG To Buy Ramsay Sime Darby Healthcare For $1.2 Billion Psychologically, men tend to have more hubris, encouraging them to start a business. Kumar Mehta, Forbes, 13 Nov. 2023 The entrepreneur, who positioned himself as the face of the industry when the prices of digital coins like Bitcoin and Ether were surging, emerged last year as a cautionary tale of the unfettered hubris and risk-taking that cost customers billions of dollars when the crypto market crashed. J. Edward Moreno, New York Times, 27 Oct. 2023 Achilles has his heel and his hubris to go along with his great strength. Michael Ordoña, Los Angeles Times, 15 Oct. 2023 Their hubris would also contribute to their demise. Julia M. Klein, Los Angeles Times, 27 Sep. 2023 His ultimate triumph on the melodica matter lets a little hubris shine through the humility. Chris Willman, Variety, 1 Sep. 2023 He’s lost everything because of his hubris and his pride and his ego. Ethan Shanfeld, Variety, 5 Oct. 2023 Its development is too important to be left to the hubris of Silicon Valley’s elites. Vivek Wadhwa, Fortune, 1 Sep. 2023 Kyiv — and Ukraine — were saved through a combination of Russian President Vladimir Putin's hubris, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's unexpected pluck and wartime leadership skills, and Ukraine's years of planning and forewarning from Western intelligence. Peter Weber, The Week, 30 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'hubris.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from Greek hýbris "arrogance, abuse, violence, outrage," of uncertain origin

Note: A. Nikolaev ("Die Etymologie von altgriechischem ὕβρις," Glotta, 80. [2004], pp. 211-30) connects hýbris with Greek hḗbē "youth, vigor of youth, sexual maturity" (see hebephrenia) taken as descending from Indo-European *(H)i̯ēgwh2-eh2; after a series of assumptions a derivative *Hi̯o/a(h2)gw-ri- becomes *hogwri-, which by Cowgill's Law (*o > *u between a resonant and a labial consonant) results in hýbris. On the semantic side Nikolaev has to assume that hýbris originally meant something like "physical strength," with no negative connotation; this he attempts to demonstrate in passages from Homeric epic and Hesiod. Nikolaev's etymology is roundly rejected by R. Beekes (Etymological Dictionary of Greek, Brill, 2009). Older etymologies proposing that hy- represents a prefix approximately equivalent to epi- "on, upon" are now generally in disfavor.

First Known Use

1884, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of hubris was in 1884


Dictionary Entries Near hubris

Cite this Entry

“Hubris.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Nov. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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