Word of the Day : October 5, 2018

peripeteia

play
noun pair-uh-puh-TEE-uh

Definition

: 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 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."


Examples

The novel is populated by a number of secondary characters, each of whom plays a crucial role in the protagonist's peripeteia.

"Before ever writing Chapter one, he will write synopsis after synopsis, for up to a year, ironing out all the wrinkles, developing not just plot and peripeteia (or twists) but character." — Andy Martin, The Independent, 25 Nov. 2016



Test Your Vocabulary

Fill in the blanks to complete a word that means "a major turning point or critical stage": c _ _ m _ c _ _ ri _.

VIEW THE ANSWER

Podcast


More Words of the Day

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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