tragic flaw


: a flaw in character that brings about the downfall of the hero of a tragedy

Examples of tragic flaw in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The political actors onstage in Milwaukee wore their tragic flaws on their sleeves. Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times, 24 Aug. 2023 That tendency toward self-critique may ultimately have been the tragic flaw of Menand’s midcentury creatives. Beverly Gage, Foreign Affairs, 14 Dec. 2021 Thomas is selfless and fearless in his quest to do good, but his tragic flaws of hubris, stubbornness and self-destructiveness become his undoing. Pam Kragen, San Diego Union-Tribune, 17 June 2023 His obsession proved his tragic flaw. Pablo Sandoval, Variety, 3 Oct. 2022 Yet that benefit concealed a tragic flaw. Maryn McKenna, WIRED, 24 Aug. 2022 There’s some tragic flaw there. Washington Post, 17 Jan. 2021 Eddie is the Oberyn Martell of Stranger Things: a colorful, big personality with a tragic flaw. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 17 July 2022 Driver, such a physically imposing, intense, glowering presence, is inspired casting here: Henry seems unable to express any joy, grace, or awe — a tragic flaw that inspires a heartbreaking song late in the film. Bilge Ebiri, Vulture, 6 July 2021

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

Word History

First Known Use

1913, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of tragic flaw was in 1913

Dictionary Entries Near tragic flaw

Cite this Entry

“Tragic flaw.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

tragic flaw

: a defect in the character of a good person (as the hero of a tragedy) that causes his or her destruction

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