mis·​for·​tune | \ ˌmis-ˈfȯr-chən How to pronounce misfortune (audio) \

Definition of misfortune

1a : 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
b : an unhappy situation always ready to help people in misfortune
2 : a distressing or unfortunate incident or event misfortunes never come singly

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for misfortune


adversity, ill, knock, misadventure, mischance, mishap, tragedy


fortune, luck, serendipity

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

But Michigan profits off the misfortunes of property owners like Mr. Rafaeli, as do Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota and Oregon. Christina Martin, WSJ, "For $8.41 in Unpaid Taxes, the Government Took Uri Rafaeli’s House," 7 Dec. 2018 Don’t be a troll A troll is someone who delights online in the misfortune of others, deliberately attempting to evoke a response of anger, fear, distrust or revulsion. Dwight Silverman, San Antonio Express-News, "How to be a good internet citizen," 3 July 2018 Has the misfortune of residing in a Serena Williams-adjacent neighborhood in the draw. Jon Wertheim, SI.com, "Wimbledon 2018 Seed Reports," 1 July 2018 But Maclellan could not advance to the championships without exorcising the misfortune that eliminated him last year. Branson Wright, cleveland.com, "NCAA D3 Wrestling Championships: Baldwin Wallace senior Tyler Maclellan has high hopes (video)," 7 Mar. 2018 However, barring Caesar’s misfortune there is no inherently sinister meaning behind the expression. Jill Gleeson, Country Living, "So, What Exactly Are the Ides of March?," 15 Mar. 2019 Spilling coffee all over your laptop is one of the most traumatic misfortunes known to man. Joe Queenan, WSJ, "No Crying Over Spills —Unless They Flood Your Laptop," 31 Jan. 2019 Knowing this in advance won’t make the movie any less punishing: Between the indignities suffered by Pete and the steady trickle of misfortunes that befall perceptive, open-hearted Charley, Lean on Pete is a workout. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "Lean on Pete Has Too Much Horse Heartbreak to Bear," 30 Mar. 2018 Jurors must weigh whether the aggravating circumstances of the crimes that Whitaker committed outweigh the mitigating factors of Whitaker's childhood misfortune and adult drug addiction. Cory Shaffer, cleveland.com, "Jurors deliberate fate of Alianna DeFreeze's killer," 22 Feb. 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of misfortune

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about misfortune

Statistics for misfortune

Last Updated

16 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for misfortune

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for misfortune



English Language Learners Definition of misfortune

: bad luck
: an unlucky condition or event


mis·​for·​tune | \ mis-ˈfȯr-chən How to pronounce misfortune (audio) \

Kids Definition of misfortune

1 : bad luck
2 : an unfortunate situation or event

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on misfortune

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


to mark by some ceremony or observation

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
True or False

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

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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