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also per·i·pe·ti·a  (pĕr′ə-pə-tē′ə, -tī′ə)
A sudden change of events or reversal of circumstances, especially in a literary work.

[Greek, from peripiptein, peripet-, to change suddenly : peri-, peri- + piptein, to fall; see pet- in Indo-European roots.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


(ˌpɛrɪpɪˈtaɪə; -ˈtɪə) or




(Theatre) (esp in drama) an abrupt turn of events or reversal of circumstances
[C16: from Greek, from peri- + piptein to fall (to change suddenly, literally: to fall around)]
ˌperipeˈteian, ˌperipeˈtian adj
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


or per•i•pe•ti•a

(ˌpɛr ə pɪˈtaɪ ə, -ˈti ə)

n., pl. -tei•as or -ti•as.
a sudden turn of events or an unexpected reversal, esp. in a literary work.
[1585–95; < Greek peripéteia sudden change]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.

peripeteia, peripetia, peripety

Literature. a sudden change in the course of events, especially in dramatic works.
See also: Drama
-Ologies & -Isms. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.peripeteia - a sudden and unexpected change of fortune or reverse of circumstances (especially in a literary work); "a peripeteia swiftly turns a routine sequence of events into a story worth telling"
surprise - a sudden unexpected event
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
References in classic literature ?
Besides which, the most powerful elements of emotional: interest in Tragedy Peripeteia or Reversal of the Situation, and Recognition scenes--are parts of the plot.
The word is 'peripeteia,' popular in Greek tragedies where the protagonist undergoes a reversal of fortune from state of happiness and contentment toward a catastrophic ending.
A Periphrasis B Peripeteia C Phoneme D Pleonasm 11.
First, after admitting his incurable addiction to genre fiction, he states that 'characters are not changed' (33) unless they undergo the peripeteia of reversal: in the twinkling of an eye, innocence becomes suspected or real guilt, or vice versa.
Indeed, her meeting with Westervelt, the romance's peripeteia, precipitates a crisis that sets in motion the trajectory to her death.
anagnorisis (recognition), followed by peripeteia (reversal)--interior
Murray writes that the course of reversal, of peripeteia, is necessarily from "grief to joy," and that the purpose of ritual and tragedy is theophany, the celebration of the eternal life of Dionysus or his double (Harrison [1912] 1963: 344).
This structure will attempt to explain metatheatre in the film, taking the characters-as-actors' peripeteia in this microcosm as a departure point, and then opening the scope of the commentary up to larger themes, resituating metatheatricality as a peephole through which to explore the context, reception and production circumstances of the film.
In the letter he never receives, she also situates their story in that genre, describing her concealment of their daughter as "a lie [...] appropriate to a Romance" (543) and reflecting, "You will think [...] that a romancer such as I [...] would not be able to keep such a secret for nigh on thirty years [...] without bringing about some peripeteia, some denouement, some secret hinting or open scene of revelation" (544-45).
Both rely on plot twists of the sort identified by Aristotle as peripeteia (reversal) and anagnorisis (recognition).
The plot is unified in that each of the actions proceeds in a necessary and probable order, leading--in a complex plot--to a reversal (peripeteia, where the hero expects one thing but circumstances prove otherwise) and a recognition (anagnorisis, a change from ignorance to knowledge) that, at the end, "effect through pity and fear the purification [katharsis] of such emotions" (Aristotle 10).
In Aristotle, the moment of anagnorisis (recognition, self-knowledge) ideally coincides with the peripeteia, the reversal of fortune contrary to expectation--and it is one's own unintended deeds, their meaning come fully to light, that effect the narrative shift from well-being to sorrow.