peripeteia

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noun peri·pe·teia \ˌper-ə-pə-ˈtē-ə, -ˈtī-\

Definition of peripeteia

  1. :  a sudden or unexpected reversal of circumstances or situation especially in a literary work

Did You Know?

Peripeteia comes from Greek, in which the verb peripiptein means "to fall around or "to change suddenly." It usually indicates a turning point in a drama after which the plot moves steadily to its denouement. In his Poetics, Aristotle describes peripeteia as the shift of the tragic protagonist's fortune from good to bad-a shift that is essential to the plot of a tragedy. The term is also occasionally used of a similar change in actual affairs. For example, in a June 7, 2006 article in The New York Times, Michael Cooper described William Weld's second term as Massachusetts' governor as "political peripeteia": it "began with a landslide victory and ended with frustrated hopes and his resignation."

Origin and Etymology of peripeteia

Greek, from peripiptein to fall around, change suddenly, from peri- + piptein to fall — more at feather


First Known Use: 1591


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