af·​flic·​tion | \ə-ˈflik-shən \

Definition of affliction 

1 : a cause of persistent pain or distress a mysterious affliction

2 : great suffering felt empathy with their affliction

3 : the state of being afflicted by something that causes suffering her affliction with polio

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Examples of affliction in a Sentence

She lost her sight and is now learning to live with her affliction. He died from a mysterious affliction.

Recent Examples on the Web

Three years ago, as smoke poured in from Eastern Washington, Mishka developed asthma, possibly the first otter to be diagnosed with the affliction. Sean Quinton, The Seattle Times, "Mishka the asthmatic otter at Seattle Aquarium has mastered her inhaler to get through the haze," 24 Aug. 2018 Democrats are turning to branding to mask the underlying affliction in their party: a lack of a unifying force or vision for Americans to rally around. Liz Goodwin,, "Democrats struggle to forge unifying midterm message," 26 May 2018 Interspersed with these put-downs are risible, often mystifying passages in which Ortese pontificates on class, politics and the afflictions of Naples and southern Italy. Ben Downing, WSJ, "‘Neapolitan Chronicles’ Review: Naples Painted Black," 6 Apr. 2018 Unfortunately, Bailey wasn't the only pet to suffer from this uncommon but painful affliction. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "A Terrifying Photo Shows a Dog's Mouth Coated With Painful Ladybugs," 3 Nov. 2016 The big cities of this state are all grappling with the same housing affliction: housing stock that can’t keep pace with rapid population growth and sky-high home appraisals driving people out of their neighborhoods. Gilbert Garcia, San Antonio Express-News, "City searches for the regulatory sweet spot with short-term rentals," 6 June 2018 To save the body from cancer with chemotherapy means poisoning it — sores, baldness and other afflictions accompany the paradoxical process. Ben Brazil,, "CHOC to hold prom night for teens battling cancer and for post-treatment survivors," 14 June 2018 Cincinnati VA Post-traumatic stress disorder, an affliction for many U.S. veterans, is a qualifying condition in Ohio for medical marijuana. Anne Saker,, "Cincinnati hospitals reluctantly realize that medical marijuana is coming to town," 11 July 2018 He had been diagnosed earlier this year with Paget's disease, a painful affliction that damages the bones but is not life-threatening. Christopher Marquis, miamiherald, "Jorge Mas Canosa dead at 58," 15 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'affliction.' 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 affliction

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for affliction

Middle English affliccioun "misery, distress, self-inflicted pain," borrowed from Anglo-French afflicion, borrowed from Late Latin afflīctiōn-, afflīctiō, from Latin afflīgere "to afflict" + -tiōn-, -tiō, suffix of action nouns

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Last Updated

17 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for affliction

The first known use of affliction was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for affliction



English Language Learners Definition of affliction

: something (such as a disease) that causes pain or suffering

: the state of being affected by something that causes suffering


af·​flic·​tion | \ə-ˈflik-shən \

Kids Definition of affliction

1 : the state of being affected by something that causes pain or unhappiness his affliction with polio

2 : something that causes pain or unhappiness Chicken pox is an affliction caused by a virus.

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