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 That tragedy is what happened during the 1918 influenza pandemic, in which at least 50 million people are thought to have perished. Tanya Lewis, Scientific American, "Eight Persistent COVID-19 Myths and Why People Believe Them," 12 Oct. 2020 But by the end of the hour, tragedy has struck: Henry and Catherine’s son dies at only seven weeks old, leaving England without a male heir as the country is on the brink of war with France, and the couple grieving and bereft. Anne Cohen,, "The Spanish Princess Premiere’s Tragic Twist Is Just The Beginning Of A Much Darker Season 2," 11 Oct. 2020 That tragedy is in part the story of how Sweden has, over decades, gradually yet relentlessly downgraded its famously generous social safety net. New York Times, "Pandemic Exposes Holes in Sweden’s Generous Social Welfare State," 8 Oct. 2020 The tragedy at the Ely house was shocking from the beginning. Maria Puente, USA TODAY, "Ex-'Tarzan' actor Ron Ely sues Santa Barbara sheriffs over 'wrongful' deaths of wife and son," 2 Oct. 2020 On June 27, more tragedy struck when photographer Tyler Gerth was shot and killed at Jefferson Square Park, the protesters' home base. Bailey Loosemore, The Courier-Journal, "Protests in Louisville: What activists want — and what they've accomplished," 1 Oct. 2020 The real tragedy, of course, is the lives, livelihoods and homes lost. Washington Post, "Wildfires force some growers to test their grapes for contamination, while others sit 2020 out," 25 Sep. 2020 Cathedral coach Bill Peebles said a tragedy can be tricky to use as motivation. Caleb Lynn, The Indianapolis Star, "Cathedral senior night win and 5-0 start has a greater purpose," 19 Sep. 2020 Piland reported to duty shortly before the hurricane hit to help relocate people before tragedy struck. Brandi Addison, Dallas News, "From 9/11 to Hurricane Katrina to Haiti’s earthquake, Frisco’s fire chief has seen it all," 17 Sep. 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

27 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Tragedy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Oct. 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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Comments on tragedy

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