af·​flic·​tion | \ ə-ˈflik-shən How to pronounce affliction (audio) \

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 But even nations fortunate enough to procure sufficient quantities of vaccine may never reach herd immunity, in which case COVID-19 could become a seasonal affliction that comes each year. Jordan Culver, USA TODAY, "90,000 more Americans could die by June, world may never reach herd immunity: Live COVID-19 updates," 21 Feb. 2021 For decades, Tasmanian devils have struggled with a gruesome affliction: a deadly, infectious face cancer that has driven their population from 140,000 in the 1990s to about 20,000 today, Jason Bittel reports for National Geographic. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, "Study Offers Hope for Tasmanian Devils, Once Thought Doomed by Infectious Cancer," 14 Dec. 2020 Such studies can also help physicians discover what vaccines will work to prevent the affliction. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, "A Brief History of Human Challenge Trials," 16 Dec. 2020 As early spring arrived, so did COVID-19, an affliction that, like a notable Burgundy, will forever bear the date of its vintage. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "The Movies That Mattered in 2020," 24 Dec. 2020 Sears catalog cabin, with a log wall behind her, Mamet talked about life in and out of the riding ring, and her seasonal affliction. New York Times, "Zosia Mamet’s Week: Log Cabin Living," 22 Dec. 2020 Recalling his jazz-musician father’s use of marijuana, Nas introduces the viewers to the idea of the drug as a benign and presumed part of life rather than as an illicit vice — a conduit rather than an affliction. Hank Stuever, Washington Post, "BET’s ‘Smoke’ shows how Black Americans deserve a piece of marijuana’s growing fortunes," 17 Nov. 2020 Medical experts in India are baffled by a mysterious illness that has left more than 500 people sick and at least one dead after the new affliction was first reported Saturday. Ryan W. Miller, USA TODAY, "What we know about the mystery illness in India: Over 500 sick, 1 dead after nickel and lead found in patients' blood," 8 Dec. 2020 Gratitude has always been a salve during moments of great affliction. Michael S. Hopkins, The Christian Science Monitor, "A Thanksgiving like no other: Finding uplift in a dark year," 25 Nov. 2020

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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Time Traveler for affliction

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for affliction

Last Updated

4 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Affliction.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Mar. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce affliction (audio) \

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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