noun \ˈtra-jə-dē\

: a very bad event that causes great sadness and often involves someone's death

: a very sad, unfortunate, or upsetting situation : something that causes strong feelings of sadness or regret

: a play, movie, etc., that is serious and has a sad ending (such as the death of the main character)

plural trag·e·dies

Full Definition of TRAGEDY

a :  a medieval narrative poem or tale typically describing the downfall of a great man
b :  a serious drama typically describing a conflict between the protagonist and a superior force (as destiny) and having a sorrowful or disastrous conclusion that elicits pity or terror
c :  the literary genre of tragic dramas
a :  a disastrous event :  calamity
b :  misfortune
:  tragic quality or element

Examples of TRAGEDY

  1. Her son's death was a terrible tragedy.
  2. The situation ended in tragedy when the gunman shot and killed two students.
  3. The biggest tragedy here is that the accident could have easily been prevented.
  4. Hamlet is one of Shakespeare's best-known tragedies.
  5. The students are studying Greek tragedy.
  6. an actor who is drawn to tragedy

Origin of TRAGEDY

Middle English tragedie, from Middle French, from Latin tragoedia, from Greek tragōidia, from tragos goat (akin to Greek trōgein to gnaw) + aeidein to sing — more at troglodyte, ode
First Known Use: 14th century

Other Literature Terms

apophasis, bathos, bildungsroman, bowdlerize, caesura, coda, doggerel, euphemism, poesy, prosody


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Drama of a serious and dignified character that typically describes the development of a conflict between the protagonist and a superior force (such as destiny, circumstance, or society) and reaches a sorrowful or disastrous conclusion. Tragedy of a high order has been created in three periods and locales, each with a characteristic emphasis and style: Attica, in Greece, in the 5th century BC; Elizabethan and Jacobean England (1558–1625); and 17th-century France. The idea of tragedy also found embodiment in other literary forms, especially the novel. See also comedy.


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