trag·​e·​dy | \ ˈtra-jə-dē How to pronounce tragedy (audio) \
plural tragedies

Definition of tragedy

1a : a disastrous event : calamity
2a : a serious drama typically describing a conflict between the protagonist and a superior force (such as destiny) and having a sorrowful or disastrous conclusion that elicits pity or terror
b : the literary genre of tragic dramas
c : a medieval narrative poem or tale typically describing the downfall of a great man
3 : tragic quality or element

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Examples of tragedy in a Sentence

Her son's death was a terrible tragedy. The situation ended in tragedy when the gunman shot and killed two students. The biggest tragedy here is that the accident could have easily been prevented. “Hamlet” is one of Shakespeare's best-known tragedies. The students are studying Greek tragedy. an actor who is drawn to tragedy
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Recent Examples on the Web

Friends and family of a 29-year-old Georgia mother and her three children, who were found fatally stabbed in an apartment Wednesday, say the tragedy has come as a total shock to the community, according to reports. Fox News, "Fatal stabbings of mom, 3 kids leave relatives, friends devastated; suspect in custody, authorities say," 19 July 2019 The fund was set up by the FOP chapter to collect donations for any tragedy that befalls an officer. Howard Koplowitz |,, "How to help Birmingham police officer recovering from injuries in downtown shootout," 19 July 2019 At its best, season 3 excavates the glorious tragedy underpinning the highest camp. Darren Franich,, "GLOW's Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin are one of the best TV duos of the decade — here's why," 19 July 2019 The last two years of Ariana Grande’s life have been full of triumph, tragedy and excruciating heartache. The Si Staff,, "'Horns Down' Is Already This Year's Most Controversial College Football Celebration," 19 July 2019 The Branson tragedy intensified those concerns, prompting lawmakers and safety experts to call for safety regulations and complete bans. Crystal Hill, Indianapolis Star, "One year since the Missouri duck boat tragedy, tours across the US are still running," 18 July 2019 The San Bruno tragedy killed eight people and destroyed a neighborhood. Mercury News & East Bay Times Editorial Boards, The Mercury News, "Editorial: New California wildfire plan has a catch — and it’s a big one," 17 July 2019 The 1967 tragedy of the Apollo 1 mission loomed large over those who worked on anything for the later Apollo missions, Miller said. Kyra Haas, azcentral, "Scottsdale Motorola workers made devices that transmitted famous words and images from the moon," 17 July 2019 The tragedy touched a chord among motorcycle enthusiasts and military families across the country, who have held rides and fund-raisers in solidarity of the fallen seven. Farah Stockman, New York Times, "7 Died in a Motorcycle Crash. How Their Club of Former Marines Is Mourning Them.," 13 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tragedy.' 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 tragedy

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2c

History and Etymology for tragedy

Middle English tragedie, from Middle French, from Latin tragoedia, from Greek tragōidia, from tragos goat (akin to Greek trōgein to gnaw) + aeidein to sing — more at troglodyte, ode

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Statistics for tragedy

Last Updated

22 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tragedy

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

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More Definitions for tragedy



English Language Learners Definition of tragedy

: a very bad event that causes great sadness and often involves someone's death
: a very sad, unfortunate, or upsetting situation : something that causes strong feelings of sadness or regret
: a play, movie, etc., that is serious and has a sad ending (such as the death of the main character)


trag·​e·​dy | \ ˈtra-jə-dē How to pronounce tragedy (audio) \
plural tragedies

Kids Definition of tragedy

1 : a disastrous event
2 : a serious play that has a sad or disastrous ending

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More from Merriam-Webster on tragedy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tragedy

Spanish Central: Translation of tragedy

Nglish: Translation of tragedy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tragedy for Arabic Speakers

Comments on tragedy

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


something desired as essential

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