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From Ancient Greek ἁμαρτία (hamartia), meaning error or failure. From the verb ἁμαρτάνω hamartanō, "to miss the mark".


hamartia (usually uncountable, plural hamartias)

  1. The tragic flaw of the protagonist in a literary tragedy.
    Creon's main and foremost hamartia was his excessive pride.
    • 2014 October 21, Oliver Brown, “Oscar Pistorius jailed for five years – sport afforded no protection against his tragic fallibilities: Bladerunner's punishment for killing Reeva Steenkamp is but a frippery when set against the burden that her bereft parents, June and Barry, must carry [print version: No room for sentimentality in this tragedy, 13 September 2014, p. S22]”, in The Daily Telegraph (Sport)[1]:
      But ever since the concept of "hamartia" recurred through Aristotle's Poetics, in an attempt to describe man's ingrained iniquity, our impulse has been to identify a telling defect in those brought suddenly and dramatically low.
  2. (Christianity) sin