mis·​for·​tune | \ˌmis-ˈfȯr-chən \

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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for misfortune


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


fortune, luck, serendipity

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Ross Klein, a Canadian academic, studies corruption of cruise corporations and logs all the misfortune that happens on and off board. Aditi Shrikant, Vox, "The case against cruises," 15 Nov. 2018 To lose one major money person from your company may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two within a week looks like carelessness. Elizabeth Lopatto, The Verge, "A tale of two CEOs: Tim Cook demonstrates what some want from Elon Musk," 14 Sep. 2018 James, meanwhile, remains as transcendently dominant as ever, but had the misfortune of being really bad at assembling a superteam. Mike Finger, San Antonio Express-News, "Tiger joins LeBron in new era of underdogs," 13 June 2018 Fans can sometimes pin these things on curses, misfortune or bad luck. Zach Osterman, Indianapolis Star, "Insider: Annual early Big Ten tournament exit final reminder of what IU basketball has become," 2 Mar. 2018 In general, however, public support is an advantage for a new democracy, helping to cushion the system against political misfortune. Christopher Claassen, Washington Post, "Support for democracy is declining — but not in the U.S. or other Western democracies," 5 July 2018 Still, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, to make one early exit from a major tournament looks like misfortune. SI.com, "Spain Are Back! Why the Last 3 Major Tournaments Aren't a Blip for Football's Great Underachievers," 5 July 2018 The sprawling boardinghouse offers shelter to 100 or so residents, many in need of support after financial or personal misfortune. Aubrey Nagle, Philly.com, "Quakertown landmark rebuilds, Pa. closes in on primary day, Trump surprises with China move | Morning Newsletter," 14 May 2018 Johnson’s putting misfortunes in Sunday’s final round at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club were not nearly so calamitous. Bill Pennington, New York Times, "U.S. Open: Dustin Johnson’s Wayward Short Game Makes for a Long Sunday," 17 June 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.

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First Known Use of misfortune

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

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Statistics for misfortune

Last Updated

28 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for misfortune

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

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More Definitions for misfortune



English Language Learners Definition of misfortune

: bad luck

: an unlucky condition or event


mis·​for·​tune | \mis-ˈfȯr-chən \

Kids Definition of misfortune

1 : bad luck

2 : an unfortunate situation or event

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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 move with a clumsy heavy tread

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