mis·​for·​tune ˌmis-ˈfȯr-chən How to pronounce misfortune (audio)
: an event or conjunction of events that causes an unfortunate or distressing result : bad luck
by misfortune he fell into bad company
had the misfortune to break his leg
: an unhappy situation
always ready to help people in misfortune
: a distressing or unfortunate incident or event
misfortunes never come singly
Choose the Right Synonym for misfortune

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

Examples of misfortune in a Sentence

a victim of economic misfortune She endured her misfortune without complaint. It was my misfortune to be chosen first. Her injury was a great misfortune. He blamed the party's misfortunes on poor leadership.
Recent Examples on the Web Beautiful dark-skinned Lupita Nyong’o has the misfortune of personifying the guilt of the new racists. Armond White, National Review, 10 July 2024 Sunday's cartoons - Fizzling out, outrageous misfortune, and the branches of government Newsletter sign up By The Week US published 3 days ago Subscribe to The Week Escape your echo chamber. The Week Us, theweek, 7 July 2024 When power is highly concentrated in the hands of one hegemonic state, the dominant entity’s fortunes and misfortunes are, in fact, often shared by everyone else. Andrew Byers, Foreign Affairs, 1 July 2024 Polarizing members of Congress believe national misfortune and natural phenomena are punishment for a sinful republic. Theodore R. Johnson, Washington Post, 18 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for misfortune 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'misfortune.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of misfortune was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near misfortune

Cite this Entry

“Misfortune.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/misfortune. Accessed 19 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


mis·​for·​tune (ˈ)mis-ˈfȯr-chən How to pronounce misfortune (audio)
: bad luck especially for a long period of time
: an unfortunate condition or event : disaster

More from Merriam-Webster on misfortune

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