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

Suicide is a frustrating, stubborn tragedy, and one that’s growing more common. Julissa Treviño, Vox, "Suicides are at the highest rate in decades, CDC report shows," 30 Nov. 2018 The kitchen was opened after the Grenfell tragedy, offering women who had been displaced and the community around them a space to cook food for their families. Rachel Epstein, Marie Claire, "Read Meghan Markle's Emotional Foreword to 'Together: Our Community Cookbook'," 19 Sep. 2018 In April, the Sutherland Springs Facebook group, created to support those affected by the tragedy, erupted into mayhem and was eventually frozen. Silvia Foster-frau, San Antonio Express-News, "Sutherland Springs receives millions in donations to massacre relief fund," 8 July 2018 Countless violent tragedies under Republican leadership — including the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and Tree of Life synagogue shootings — had mobilized voters to hold elected officials accountable. Michael Pincus, Teen Vogue, "Losing in the Midterm Elections Isn’t the End," 9 Nov. 2018 In honor of the tragedy, many paid tribute to the lives that were lost, including country star Jason Aldean, who headlined the event, and Flip or Flop star Tarek El Moussa, who happened to be in attendance that day. Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "Tarek El Moussa Remembers Narrowly Escaping Route 91 Massacre: 'I Got Really Lucky'," 4 Oct. 2018 The social cost of carbon (or SCC) is a way to put a price tag on the result of that tragedy, quantifying just how much climate change will cost the world over the coming generations. Cathleen O'grady, Ars Technica, "The US would suffer some of the biggest costs of climate change," 30 Sep. 2018 Hamilton told reporters, referring to the fact that in addition to being a site of tragedy, the Cortlandt site is home to some of the earliest iterations of subways in New York. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Destroyed on 9/11, a New York Subway Station Reopens 17 Years Later," 10 Sep. 2018 Lupita unfortunately didn’t make the final cut (honestly, a tragedy) for the iconic lineup, but the Twilight star is still in perfectly badass company. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, and Ella Balinska Confirmed for New Charlie's Angels Remake," 27 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

9 Dec 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

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to enclose within walls

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