adversity

noun
ad·​ver·​si·​ty | \ad-ˈvər-sə-tē \
plural adversities

Definition of adversity 

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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for adversity

Synonyms

ill, knock, misadventure, mischance, misfortune, mishap, tragedy

Antonyms

fortune, luck, serendipity

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

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").

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

People who know them said adversity hardened the men’s bond to the company. Ruth Bender, WSJ, "Bayer Pursued Monsanto Despite Weedkiller Suits and Executive’s Concern," 25 Nov. 2018 Despite its limitations, this work takes a first step in showing that community violence is linked with detectable differences in the teen brain in ways that are consistent with other forms of early adversity like abuse and neglect. Darby Saxbe, Scientific American, "Living with Neighborhood Violence May Shape Teens’ Brains," 15 June 2018 Resilience from adversity Folklorists have highlighted the importance of humble origins for heroes to show a common touch and accessibility. Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, Fortune, "Why CEOs Make Great Politicians," 14 June 2018 In a 2016 article, Assari explained why this might be: Whites who live under adversity do worse than blacks and other minority groups who live under the same life conditions. Michael Harriot, The Root, "Study: Affluent Black Kids Suffer Higher Rates of Depression Because ... You Guessed It: Racism," 15 May 2018 The television drama, which centers around the Pearson family, is known for its tearjerking storyline and its emotional episodes about death and adversity. Melissa Chan, Time, "Why Sterling K. Brown Is Ready to Play Green Lantern," 24 Apr. 2018 Even now, when faced with significant stress or adversity, restricting food intake is programmed as my default. Emilly Prado, Marie Claire, "How 'To the Bone' Contributes to the Whitewashing of Eating Disorders," 21 July 2017 Keenum, who joined the Denver Broncos this offseason after a memorable playoff run with the Minnesota Vikings, describes how his faith in God has helped him overcome adversity and paved his path every step of the way. Matt Wyatt, Houston Chronicle, "Case Keenum to release new book in September," 6 June 2018 England needed a late goal to beat Tunisia but overcoming adversity is something the Three Lions have struggled with in past tournaments. SI.com, "World Cup Preview: England vs Belgium - Recent Form, Previous Encounter, Predictions & More," 27 June 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about adversity

Listen to Our Podcast about adversity

Statistics for adversity

Last Updated

5 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for adversity

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for adversity

adversity

noun

English Language Learners Definition of adversity

: a difficult situation or condition : misfortune or tragedy

adversity

noun
ad·​ver·​si·​ty | \ad-ˈvər-sə-tē \
plural adversities

Kids Definition of adversity

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on adversity

What made you want to look up adversity? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to make faulty or ineffective

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!