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 Then, when Diana died in a 1997 car accident, royal watchers felt the tragedy would doom any chance Charles would have for a happy ending with Camilla. People Staff,, "Diana, Charles, and Camilla: The Untold Story — New PEOPLE Special Edition Out Now!," 31 July 2020 The relationship between Bush and Lewis was, at times tense, with the tragedy of 9/11 looming large. Joshua Bote, USA TODAY, "Former President George W. Bush at John Lewis' funeral: 'He will live forever in the hearts of Americans'," 31 July 2020 The nature of this crisis — its tragedy, repetition and relentlessness — is not unlike the stress of war, Simpson said. Lauren Caruba,, "‘We’re all fearful of what could happen’: COVID deaths rise in San Antonio as hospitals are pushed to capacity," 12 July 2020 But the greatest tragedy of this coming season has yet to come. Drew Magary, SFGate, "Drew Magary: The Astros are a team of Karens. It’s a tragedy MLB fans can’t boo them in person," 8 July 2020 Each and every victim, each and every family member, and all those touched by this tragedy are the focus of constant, daily prayers by Patrick's family. CBS News, "El Paso Walmart shooting suspect faces new murder charge after death of 23rd victim," 25 June 2020 Our industry has not only been annihilated by this tragedy, it has also been changed for the foreseeable future. Mark Kurlyandchik, Detroit Free Press, "Fear and loathing in the service industry as metro Detroit restaurants begin reopening," 23 June 2020 Could this be the beginning of a cataclysmic American tragedy? Shelby Stewart, Houston Chronicle, "Why returning to Disney World won't solve any of your problems right now," 13 July 2020 Speaking to USA Today, Mark explained that the tragedy unfolded as a result of the rocky waters from Tropical Storm Fay. Joelle Goldstein,, "18-Year-Old Dies After Rescuing 2 Friends Who 'Encountered Trouble' While Swimming in Ocean," 13 July 2020

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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Time Traveler for tragedy

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for tragedy

Last Updated

4 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Tragedy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for tragedy


How to pronounce tragedy (audio)

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

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