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noun ad·ver·si·ty \ad-ˈvər-sə-tē\

Simple Definition of adversity

  • : a difficult situation or condition : misfortune or tragedy

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of adversity



  1. :  a state or instance of serious or continued difficulty or misfortune (see adverse)

Examples of adversity in a sentence

  1. After two years of research, I discovered that everyone has a crisis personality survivor IQ—that they marshal in a moment of adversity: a mindset and ways of thinking about a situation. —Ben Sherwood, Newsweek, 2 Feb. 2009

  2. Perhaps because their brains are wired differently, dyslexics are often skilled problem solvers, coming at solutions from novel or surprising angles and making conceptual leaps. … It may also be that their early struggle with reading better prepares them for dealing with adversity in a volatile, fast-changing world. —Christine Gorman ,Time, 28 July 2003

  3. High school, college and even NFL teams have been getting a quick morale boost by going to see Remember the Titans, the schmaltzy but uplifting story about (what else?) a football squad overcoming adversity. —Sports Illustrated, 6 Nov. 2000

  4. The narrative plot is clearly defined, and it is classically familiar: Huck (without Jim) and Tom Sawyer light out for unknown territory to discover their manhood by successfully confronting the harsh adversities of life. —John W. Aldridge, Atlantic, August 1994

  5. He showed courage in the face of adversity.

  6. We had to learn to deal with adversity.

Did You Know?

Adversity, "mischance," "misfortune," and "mishap" all suggest difficulty of one sort or another. "Adversity" particularly applies to a state of grave or persistent misfortune (as in "a childhood marked by great adversity"). "Mishap" suggests an often trivial instance of bad luck (as in "the usual mishaps of a family vacation"). "Misfortune" is the most common and the most general of the terms, often functioning as a simple synonym of "bad luck" (as in "They had the misfortune to get a flat tire on the way to their wedding"). "Mischance" applies especially to a situation involving no more than slight inconvenience or minor annoyance (as in "Some small mischance befell us").

Origin and Etymology of adversity

(see adverse)

First Known Use: 13th century

Synonym Discussion of adversity

misfortune, mischance, adversity, mishap mean adverse fortune or an instance of this. misfortune may apply to either the incident or conjunction of events that is the cause of an unhappy change of fortune or to the ensuing state of distress <never lost hope even in the depths of misfortune>. mischance applies especially to a situation involving no more than slight inconvenience or minor annoyance <took the wrong road by mischance>. adversity applies to a state of grave or persistent misfortune <had never experienced great adversity>. mishap applies to an often trivial instance of bad luck <the usual mishaps of a family vacation>.

ADVERSITY Defined for Kids


noun ad·ver·si·ty \ad-ˈvər-sə-tē\

Definition of adversity for Students



  1. :  hard times :  misfortune <Despite the adversity of his childhood, he achieved great success.>

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