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Jan 7, 2015
This week’s theme
Words relating to books

This week’s words
bildungsroman
longueur
peripeteia
locus classicus
litterateur

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

peripeteia or peripetia

PRONUNCIATION:
(per-uh-puh-TEE-uh, -TIE-uh)

MEANING:
noun: A sudden or unexpected change of fortune, especially in a literary work.
A classic example is Oedipus learning about his parentage.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Greek peripiptein (to change suddenly), from peri- (near, around) + piptein (to fall). Ultimately from the Indo-European root pet- (to rush or fly), which also gave us feather, petition, compete, perpetual, pterodactyl, helicopter, pterodactyl, propitious, pinnate, pteridology (study of ferns), lepidopterology (study of butterflies and moths), pencel (flag at the end of a lance), and impetuous. Earliest documented use: 1591.

USAGE:
“Dr. Farhad feels the glaring eyes of one of the machine-gun-toting officers on him and smiles bitterly at his fate. ... This selfless doctor, even at this daunting moment of peripeteia, is worried about the critical condition of one of his poor patients whom he is scheduled to operate on tomorrow. “
Shahriar Mandanipour, translated by Sara Khalili; Censoring an Iranian Love Story; Knopf; 2009.

See more usage examples of peripeteia in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
There are years that ask questions and years that answer. -Zora Neale Hurston, folklorist and writer (7 Jan 1891-1960)

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