ad·​ver·​si·​ty | \ ad-ˈvər-sə-tē How to pronounce adversity (audio) \
plural adversities

Definition of adversity

: a state or instance of serious or continued difficulty or misfortune showing courage in the face of adversity

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Synonyms & Antonyms for adversity



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Choose the Right Synonym for 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

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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").

Examples of adversity in a Sentence

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 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 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 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 He showed courage in the face of adversity. We had to learn to deal with adversity.
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Recent Examples on the Web Having a survivalist mentality (the will to live no matter how difficult the adversity) is multi-faceted. Tim Macwelch, Outdoor Life, "9 Tips for Keeping Your Head in a Survival Situation," 5 May 2020 Despite facing adversity, from the civil rights era to recent trends in gentrification, Black people continue to make D.C. a hub for innovation—particularly through food. Ryan Walker-hartshorn, Bon Appétit, "How to Spend a Big Weekend in Washington, D.C.," 6 Mar. 2020 The restaurant, which gained its cult following in a strip mall on Wycliff Avenue, has seen its fair share of adversity after suffering from a fire back in 2012. Dalila Thomas, Dallas News, "7 places to get your sushi fix to go," 24 Apr. 2020 View this post on Instagram Whenever and wherever adversity strikes, the people of the UK have a unique ability to pull together. Erin Corbett,, "How The Royal Family Is Handling Coronavirus: From Testing To Social Distancing," 27 Mar. 2020 Enveloped in the moving lyricism of Bob Dylan’s songbook, the show is akin to a poem of uplift — an ode to fellowship forged in adversity. Peter Marks, Washington Post, "Listen up, Bob Dylan fans: You’ll want to journey to Broadway’s ‘North Country’," 6 Mar. 2020 The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all. Mikayla Pivec | For The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, "Mikayla Pivec’s Oregon State women’s basketball diary: Staying positive despite a recent Costco-sized platter of humble pie," 21 Feb. 2020 When adversity strikes, the hockey community rallies together. Jim Clark,, "Hockey community rallies around injured North Quincy senior Connor Kulig," 14 Jan. 2020 After building so many big leads and cruising to somewhat shaky finishes, the loss to the 76ers raised the question of what happens when adversity strikes, with the 76ers jumping on the Heat from Saturday's outset, up 20 in the first quarter. Ira Winderman,, "Jimmy Butler on Heat bounce back from debacle, ‘It’s easily correctable’," 24 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'adversity.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of adversity

13th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for adversity

Middle English adversite "opposition, hostility, misfortune, hardship," borrowed from Anglo-French adversité, aversité, borrowed from Late Latin adversitāt-, adversitās (Latin, "power of counteracting"), from Latin adversus adverse + -itāt-, -itās -ity

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Time Traveler for adversity

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The first known use of adversity was in the 13th century

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Last Updated

22 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Adversity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for adversity


How to pronounce adversity (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of adversity

: a difficult situation or condition : misfortune or tragedy


ad·​ver·​si·​ty | \ ad-ˈvər-sə-tē How to pronounce adversity (audio) \
plural adversities

Kids Definition of adversity

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

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