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

Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic do a fabulous job of bringing this tragedy to life and setting it in its proper context. Monitor Staff, The Christian Science Monitor, "10 best books of July: the Monitor's picks," 12 July 2018 His donation is just one of over a thousand that have been made to support Barr's family during this tragedy. Taylor Palmby, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "J.J. Watt donates $10,000 to support family of firefighter killed in Sun Prairie explosion," 11 July 2018 Nothing will be done to fix this ongoing national tragedy. Paul Daugherty,, "Morning Line: After Annapolis killings, Doc asks what the hell is wrong with us," 2 July 2018 Numb’: Capital journalists tweet their own tragedy That article was published in July 2011, about a week after Ramos had pleaded guilty to criminal harassment charges, court records said. Jared Gilmour, miamiherald, "Who is Jarrod Ramos? What we know about suspected Capital Gazette newsroom shooter," 28 June 2018 As those who’ve been paying attention have come to expect, Foster’s performance is freighted with a tense, explosive dignity; Will is a good man undone by demons and his tragedy is his country’s. Ty Burr,, "In ‘Leave No Trace,’ a father and daughter who break your heart," 27 June 2018 While there’s a beauty in the simplicity of its narrative, contrasted by the complexity of grief through which O’Barr was inspired by- a result of his own personal tragedy, The Crow has been one of the most challenging films for Hollywood to remake. Richard Newby, The Hollywood Reporter, "Why 'The Crow' Should Not Fly Again," 31 May 2018 Nick has been living with his mother since this tragedy occurred. Crimesider Staff, CBS News, "Texas teen, wife accused of hiring hitman to kill his jeweler father," 31 May 2018 Despite the tragedy, Jornet went on to flash up and down the other peaks, setting records, traveling light, deploying his bohemian brand of mountain endurance, and often doing in hours what took other experienced climbers days. Nick Heil, Outside Online, "Are Kilian Jornet's Speed Records Too Good to Be True?," 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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Learn More about tragedy

Statistics for tragedy

Last Updated

16 Sep 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

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