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 The domination was similar to that of soccer and lacrosse, but not without a fair share of adversity. oregonlive, "Former Oregon Ducks safety Jevon Holland is taking his talent and unabashed social consciousness to the NFL: ‘I’m actually human before I’m a football player’," 7 Oct. 2020 The three classmates — Coral Springs' Bella Miller (Michigan State) and Hannah Kang (Rutgers), and Parkland’s Kielyn McCright (Utah State) — have overcome that adversity and have given their verbal commitments to compete in college next fall. Gary Curreri,, "3 gymnasts headed off to D1 college programs," 1 Oct. 2020 Brahms was encouraged by how his teammates responded to adversity within the game. Giana Han, al, "Auburn’s offensive line putting together the ‘puzzle’," 28 Sep. 2020 But the nature of this improbable comeback, the way Prescott and others responded in the face of adversity, can reverberate well beyond the 40-39 final score. David Moore, Dallas News, "The Cowboys had no business winning vs. Falcons. That is, until Dak Prescott changed the narrative.," 20 Sep. 2020 Colts General Manager Chris Ballard is that Blankenship responds well to adversity. Jim Ayello, The Indianapolis Star, "Insider: Rodrigo Blankenship is here to make big kicks and build LEGOs," 8 Sep. 2020 Jose Ramon Lopez, 17, was recognized for having the courage to overcome adversity after he was placed in the foster care system at the age of 9. Makhfria Abdullahi, 17, from Morse High was honored for raising funds for social justice organizations. San Diego Union-Tribune, "San Diego teens honored for achievements, activism and overcoming adversity," 28 Aug. 2020 In any crisis, clear, consistent, calming, compassionate messaging from local, state, and national leaders is pivotal to people coming together to overcome adversity. Shira Doron, STAT, "Americans aren’t listening to coronavirus warnings because the messaging is wrong," 26 Aug. 2020 Arizona State football coach Herm Edwards has prided himself on being able to adapt, overcome adversity and play the cards that are dealt. Michelle Gardner, The Arizona Republic, "ASU football coach Herm Edwards navigating his team through unusual times," 13 Aug. 2020

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

11 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Adversity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Oct. 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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