[ 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.

Nearby words

  1. peripachymeningitis,
  2. peripancreatitis,
  3. peripatetic,
  4. peripatetics,
  5. peripatus,
  6. peripherad,
  7. peripheral,
  8. peripheral device,
  9. peripheral dysostosis,
  10. peripheral motor neuron

Also per·i·pe·ti·a, pe·rip·e·ty [puh-rip-i-tee] /pəˈrɪp ɪ ti/.

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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for peripeteia


peripetia peripety (pəˈrɪpətɪ)

/ (ˌpɛrɪpɪˈtaɪə, -ˈtɪə) /


(esp in drama) an abrupt turn of events or reversal of circumstances
Derived Formsperipeteian or peripetian, adjective

Word Origin for peripeteia

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

Word Origin and History for peripeteia



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