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

Definition of hubris

: exaggerated pride or self-confidence

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web The brutal destruction of Punjab’s economy, the crippling effects of World War I on the poor Indian foot soldiers, and the hubris of the empire are all told through the life of O’Dwyer. Manavi Kapur, Quartz India, "The best books Quartz India read in 2019," 29 Dec. 2019 Conservative aides are privately concerned that Johnson has not learned the lessons of 2017 and are worried that his hubris will come to bite them. Luke Mcgee, CNN, "Boris Johnson's election gamble could cost him everything -- including Brexit," 2 Nov. 2019 The advantage Hick has is progressive hubris and ego to battle his own. Jon Caldara, The Denver Post, "Caldara: Let’s take a deeper look behind Hickenlooper’s poll numbers," 23 Aug. 2019 Many said the overall nation-building strategy was further undermined by hubris, impatience, ignorance and a belief that money can fix anything. Craig Whitlock, Anchorage Daily News, "Officials reveal how massive rebuilding projects in Afghanistan failed," 9 Dec. 2019 While most of the balloon incidents are at least a little humorous (the hubris of man, to create such beasts!), a small handful of accidents have ended with people being seriously injured. Aj Willingham, CNN, "Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade: Some of the most infamous balloon accidents," 28 Nov. 2019 To those from other specialties, this broad claim might smack of hubris. Fortune, "Should Designers Adopt a Code of Ethics?," 26 Nov. 2019 Every mile was a reminder of how, after a century and a half of human management, hubris, and greed, the tens of millions of fiercely strong wild salmon had become hundreds of thousands of narrow and devolved replicants. Patrick Symmes, Harper's magazine, "The $68,000 Fish," 28 Oct. 2019 Ewoks make conveniently plushy toys, true, but George Lucas insists on the Return of the Jedi DVD commentary that they were created to reflect a theme of returning to nature and primitive creatures triumphing over the Empire’s technological hubris. Maureen Lee Lenker,, "In defense of Star Wars' cuddliest creatures… or why you should show Porgs and Ewoks more love," 28 Nov. 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of hubris

1884, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for hubris

Greek hybris

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about hubris

Time Traveler for hubris

Time Traveler

The first known use of hubris was in 1884

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about hubris

Statistics for hubris

Last Updated

18 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Hubris.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 21 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on hubris

What made you want to look up hubris? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


good-natured easy friendliness

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Intact Latin Quiz

  • roman tablet
  • What did focus mean in Latin?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!