Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A sudden change of events or reversal of circumstances, especially in a literary work.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun a reversal of fortune; a sudden change in circumstances

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a sudden and unexpected change of fortune or reverse of circumstances (especially in a literary work)

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Greek, from peripiptein, peripet-, to change suddenly : peri-, peri- + piptein, to fall; see pet- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Ancient Greek περιπέτεια, ultimately from περί ("round, around, about") + the stem of πίπτω ("to fall").

Examples

Comments

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  • It's not often that I can't spell a word I should know, so here's a memorandum. 'Peripeteia' is from pet- "fall" (as in 'apoptosis' and 'diptote', both with the zero grade), and mnemonically it's what befalls characters in a narrative. It has no relation to what was confusing me, 'peripatetic' from pat- "walk, tread".

    August 14, 2008

  • Thank you, qroqqa! I was wondering about that, too.

    April 11, 2011