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Alternative forms[edit]


From Late Latin peripetia, and its source Ancient Greek περιπέτεια (peripéteia), ultimately from περί (perí, round, around, about) + the stem of πίπτω (píptō, to fall).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /pɛɹɪpᵻˈtɪə/, /pɛɹɪpᵻˈtʌɪə/



  1. A sudden reversal of fortune as a plot point in Classical tragedy; hence, any sudden change in circumstances; a crisis. [from 16th c.]
    • 1965, John Fowles, The Magus:
      Once more I was a man in a myth, incapable of understanding it, but somehow aware that understanding it meant it must continue, however sinister its peripeteia.
    • 1977, Alistair Horne, A Savage War of Peace, New York Review books 2006, p. 167:
      They were to bestride the Algerian scene like demigods until the tragic peripeteia of 1961 [...].
  2. (psychoanalysis) This term needs a definition. Please help out and add a definition, then remove the text {{rfdef}}.. [from 1960s]