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[per-uh-pi-tahy-uh, -tee-uh] /ˌpɛr ə pɪˈtaɪ ə, -ˈti ə/
a sudden turn of events or an unexpected reversal, especially in a literary work.
Also, peripetia, peripety
[puh-rip-i-tee] /pəˈrɪp ɪ ti/ (Show IPA)
Origin of peripeteia
1585-95; < Greek peripéteia sudden change, equivalent to peripet(ḗs) literally, falling round (peri- peri- + pet-, base of píptein to fall) + -eia -y3 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for peripety
Historical Examples
  • Two parts of the Plot, then, peripety and Discovery, are on matters of this sort.

    The Poetics Aristotle
  • But Theodore Kremer, who very possibly never heard of peripety, would do exactly the same thing.

    Seeing Things at Night Heywood Broun
  • When a pupil brings in a play in favor of polygamy, Baker declines to argue but talks instead about peripety.

    Pieces of Hate Heywood Broun
  • Has the conception of the peripety, as an almost obligatory element in drama, any significance for the modern playwright?

    Play-Making William Archer
  • In the third act of Othello we have a peripety handled with consummate theatrical skill.

    Play-Making William Archer
British Dictionary definitions for peripety


/ˌpɛrɪpɪˈtaɪə; -ˈtɪə/
(esp in drama) an abrupt turn of events or reversal of circumstances
Derived Forms
peripeteian, peripetian, adjective
Word Origin
C16: from Greek, from peri- + piptein to fall (to change suddenly, literally: to fall around)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for peripety



also peripetia, 1590s, from Greek peripeteia "a turn right about; a sudden change" (of fortune, in a tragedy), from peri- "around" (see peri-) + stem of piptein "to fall" (see symptom).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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