• synonyms


[per-uh-pi-tahy-uh, -tee-uh]
  1. a sudden turn of events or an unexpected reversal, especially in a literary work.
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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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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


  • 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)

  1. (esp in drama) an abrupt turn of events or reversal of circumstances
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Derived Formsperipeteian or 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

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).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper