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 Her daughter, Fatemeh Sharifzadeh, who is in high school, was born years after the tragedy. The Salt Lake Tribune, 10 Sep. 2021 Very few artifacts were recovered in the days after the tragedy. Caitlin O'kane, CBS News, 9 Sep. 2021 Along with the game serving as a return of major college football after a national tragedy, the SEC donated $1 million to a fund supporting victims of the attacks. Tom Green |, al, 7 Sep. 2021 Many share that mentality as the community continues to reshape itself one year after the tragedy. oregonlive, 3 Sep. 2021 Hours after the tragedy, Arnold Palmer spoke to media. Dana Hunsinger Benbow, The Indianapolis Star, 19 Aug. 2021 After the McDonald tragedy, the city transformed another existing oversight body into the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, or COPA, which now has 150 employees and a $13 million budget. Austin Berg, National Review, 10 Aug. 2021 On a sympathy visit after the tragedy, his magnanimous landlord, Mr. Vincent, tells him not to worry about the next month’s rent. Teju Cole, The New Yorker, 10 Aug. 2021 Getting answers and for clients and helping to make their lives better after tragedy has been fulfilling. Georgann Yara, The Arizona Republic, 14 Oct. 2021

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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Last Updated

16 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Tragedy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

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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 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

More from Merriam-Webster on tragedy

Nglish: Translation of tragedy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tragedy for Arabic Speakers


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