[per-uh-pi-tahy-uh, -tee-uh]


a sudden turn of events or an unexpected reversal, especially in a literary work.

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

Examples from the Web for peripety

Historical Examples of peripety

  • Two parts of the Plot, then, Peripety and Discovery, are on matters of this sort.

    The Poetics


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

  • 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?


    William Archer

  • In the third act of Othello we have a peripety handled with consummate theatrical skill.


    William Archer

British Dictionary definitions for peripety


peripetia peripety (pəˈrɪpətɪ)


(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 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