trag·e·dy | \ˈtra-jə-dē \
plural tragedies

Definition of tragedy 

1a : a disastrous event : calamity

b : misfortune

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

After the 2016 massacre of 49 people at Orlando’s Pulse dance club, fresh attention landed on a tragedy in the gay community decades earlier. Kerry Reid,, "'View UpStairs' goes back in time to tragic fire in the gay community of 1973 New Orleans," 6 July 2018 Prayers continuing that everyone will walk away from this horrific tragedy. Catherine Rentz,, "What they're saying about the fatal shooting at Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis," 29 June 2018 But the carrier suffered a tragedy in 2006, when one of its jets skidded off a snowy runway and collided with a car on a Chicago road, killing a six-year-old boy. Stephen Paulsen, Houston Chronicle, "Passenger dies aboard United flight from Houston to Boston," 27 June 2018 Then, 13 minutes later, came a tragedy of almost Shakespearean proportions., "World Cup Countdown: 9 Days to Go - What if Paolo Rossi Had Still Been Banned?," 5 June 2018 But his skepticism about scientific institutions is also driven by a searing tragedy. Andrew Joseph, STAT, "He takes on Eric Lander, and the scientific establishment. ‘This is who I am. I get angry.’," 16 May 2018 Keith Matheny, Detroit Free Press At an idyllic, quiet, tranquil patch of fen and prairie in Oakland County's Springfield Township, a tragedy is unfolding. Keith Matheny, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan's most endangered species nears extinction in Oakland County," 13 July 2018 Our faith tells us that any kind of hardship or tragedy is a test of faith. John Maccormack, San Antonio Express-News, "Teen accomplice details how Victoria mosque went up in flames," 12 July 2018 Her own life soon began to spin out of control, throwing her a tragedy at 44 and a disaster of her own making at 50 (when she is played by Kellie Overbey). Jesse Green, New York Times, "Review: ‘Mary Page Marlowe’ Lives an Ordinary, Extraordinary Life," 12 July 2018

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

14 Oct 2018

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 \
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).


to reject or criticize sharply

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