Definition of hamartia in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /həˈmɑːtɪə/


A fatal flaw leading to the downfall of a tragic hero or heroine: there’s supposed to be an action that reveals the protagonist’s hamartia
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.

Words that rhyme with hamartia

Dei gratia
Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.