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 Never Look Back, a contemporary Orpheus and Eurydice retelling set in the Bronx, centers on a vibrant, compelling romance between a girl haunted by tragedy and a dreamy bachata singer. David Canfield,, "Exclusive preview: Lilliam Rivera's next novel spins a Bronx-set Greek myth retelling," 30 Jan. 2020 In this case bigotry, social engineering, a real-life tragedy and the politics of black women's hair are just some of the subjects showcased in the films. Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, "Ranking and reviewing the 2020 Oscar-nominated live-action and animated short films," 30 Jan. 2020 Life for him is too absurd to wallow in tragedy and too depressing for feel-good banalities. Mark Richardson, WSJ, "‘Have We Met’ by Destroyer Review: The Drollest Figure in Rock," 29 Jan. 2020 No one else knew my personal tragedies but Dave and Carole, who were disinclined to mention them. Jillian Dunham, Longreads, "At Mrs. Balbir’s," 28 Jan. 2020 An unanticipated problem was encountered, check back soon and try again Kathleen Thorson hoped that by giving up her organs after death, her tragedy would become another person’s hope for life. Ashley Boucher,, "Mom Who Died Just Days After Giving Birth Becomes 1 in a Million Organ Donor, Fulfilling Dying Wish," 22 Jan. 2020 That’s a truth that any pet owner can relate to, even those who haven’t experienced the same intensity of tragedy and adventure as Moon and Denali. Erin Berger, Outside Online, "Ben Moon of 'Denali' Knows What Makes a Good Dog Story," 22 Jan. 2020 Investigations continue to identify & prosecute this great tragedy & unforgivable mistake. CBS News, "Iran says U.S. bears blame for Iranian forces shooting down plane," 15 Jan. 2020 The Alabama tragedies and damage came after authorities say at least four people died as the result of the severe weather that has swept the South, bringing high winds and unrelenting rains. al, "At least 3 dead in Pickens County as powerful storms hit Alabama," 11 Jan. 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 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Tragedy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Feb. 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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