Definition of hamartia in English:


Syllabification: ha·mar·ti·a
Pronunciation: /ˌhämärˈtēə


  • A fatal flaw leading to the downfall of a tragic hero or heroine.
    More example sentences
    • The critic Frank Kermode corrected our mistranslation of Aristotle's word hamartia (tragic flaw), suggesting that a more accurate and useful interpretation would be missing the mark.
    • Aristotle's idea that a tragic hero acts from a hamartia or mistake rather than evil intent was distorted into a theory of the so-called tragic flaw and was applied to describe foibles of Hamlet and Othello (jealousy).
    • The terms hamartia and hubris should become basic tools of your critical apparatus.


late 18th century: Greek, 'fault, failure, guilt'; the term was used in Aristotle's Poetics with reference to ancient Greek tragedy.

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