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

Example Sentences

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 The Celtics have the ability to recover from misfortune while the Lakers lack the resiliency. Gary Washburn, BostonGlobe.com, 29 Jan. 2023 The Sales Tax Holiday for Emergency Supplies is made for those unpredictable times in Texas when impending misfortune and disaster strike. Dallas News, 19 Apr. 2022 On TikTok, her clip has turned into a meme for the Great Resignation, drawing reactions both from users who chuckle at Reid’s misfortune and those who admire her resolve. Washington Post, 27 Dec. 2021 Maybe her endless stream of misfortune will finally cease. Vulture, 17 Nov. 2022 At one point a perfect storm of misfortune hit the project – Bilkis had a romantic breakup, her father fell ill and the pandemic began, which meant that her plans of making the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca with her mother had to be shelved. Naman Ramachandran, Variety, 9 Nov. 2022 To have a villainous ruler imposed on you was a misfortune. Stacy Schiff, Smithsonian Magazine, 21 Sep. 2022 That bit of misfortune seemed to rattle Kovinic, who subsequently double faulted twice and did not win another game in the set. Dan Wolken, USA TODAY, 30 Aug. 2022 The reasons are a wheel of misfortune—breakdowns in the supply chain, lockdowns in China, the war in Ukraine, rising labor costs and gas prices, and even good old corporate opportunism. Adam Erace, Fortune, 28 May 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'misfortune.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 7 Feb. 2023.

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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