trau·ma | \ˈtrȯ-mə also ˈtrau̇-\
plural traumas also traumata\ˈtrȯ-mə-tə also ˈtrau̇- \

Definition of trauma 

1a : an injury (such as a wound) to living tissue caused by an extrinsic agent

b : a disordered psychic or behavioral state resulting from severe mental or emotional stress or physical injury

c : an emotional upset the personal trauma of an executive who is not living up to his own expectations— Karen W. Arenson

2 : an agent, force, or mechanism that causes trauma

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Other Words from trauma

traumatic \trə-ˈma-tik, trȯ-, trau̇- \ adjective
traumatically \trə-ˈma-ti-k(ə-)lē, trȯ-, trau̇- \ adverb

Did You Know?

Trauma is the Greek word for "wound". Although the Greeks used the term only for physical injuries, nowadays trauma is just as likely to refer to emotional wounds. We now know that a traumatic event can leave psychological symptoms long after any physical injuries have healed. The psychological reaction to emotional trauma now has an established name: post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. It usually occurs after an extremely stressful event, such as wartime combat, a natural disaster, or sexual or physical abuse; its symptoms include depression, anxiety, flashbacks, and recurring nightmares.

Examples of trauma in a Sentence

She never fully recovered from the traumas she suffered during her childhood. She never fully recovered from the trauma of her experiences. an accident victim with severe head trauma repeated trauma to a knee The accident victim sustained multiple traumas.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The two men were taken to a local area trauma hospital in critical condition, said Fire Rescue Capt. Wayne K. Roustan,, "Lightning strike kills one man and critically injures another," 11 July 2018 June’s trauma repeats, and so does everyone else’s. Margaret Lyons, New York Times, "‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 2 Is Brutal and Not Much Else," 11 July 2018 About a dozen suffering from emotional trauma have been treated by child psychiatrists at area hospitals. Richard Marosi,, "Hundreds of migrant children have been sent to New York. Here's how they spend their days," 9 July 2018 Fatilua was rushed by ambulance to the emergency trauma unit at Scripps Mercy Hospital and underwent life-saving surgery. John Maffei,, "Injured Madison football alum receives grant," 6 July 2018 Between crime and traffic incidents, Culberson said, the hospital sees an average of 300 trauma cases a month. Cathie Anderson, sacbee, "San Joaquin hospital’s surgeons take 7 spots on list of 10 highest-paid county employees," 29 June 2018 Those that reported significant trauma symptoms also reported significant physical symptoms, and the same thing happened to their children. Jamie Ducharme, Time, "Separating Kids From Parents Can Cause Psychological Harm. But Experts Say Detaining Them Together Isn't Much Better," 21 June 2018 During a pursuit, in which speeds approached 100 mph, Diaz-Valle ran a red light and plowed into a car driven by Biik Chong, 26, who was taken to a Baltimore shock trauma hospital where he was pronounced dead. Jess Nocera, Howard County Times, "Jessup woman sentenced for 2017 crash that killed Halethorpe driver," 8 June 2018 Kids who experience trauma often don’t bounce back, Sampson said. Krista Torralva, San Antonio Express-News, "Teen overcomes tragedies, homelessness to graduate from high school," 29 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'trauma.' 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 trauma

circa 1693, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for trauma

Greek traumat-, trauma wound, alteration of trōma; akin to Greek titrōskein to wound, tetrainein to pierce — more at throw entry 1

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Statistics for trauma

Last Updated

8 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for trauma

The first known use of trauma was circa 1693

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More Definitions for trauma



English Language Learners Definition of trauma

: a very difficult or unpleasant experience that causes someone to have mental or emotional problems usually for a long time

medical : a serious injury to a person's body


trau·ma | \ˈtrȯ-mə, ˈtrau̇- \
plural traumas also traumata\-mət-ə \

Medical Definition of trauma 

1a : an injury (as a wound) to living tissue caused by an extrinsic agent surgical trauma the intra-abdominal organs at greatest risk to athletic trauma are the spleen, pancreas, and kidney— M. R. Eichelberger — see blunt trauma

b : a disordered psychic or behavioral state resulting from mental or emotional stress or physical injury

2 : an agent, force, or mechanism that causes trauma

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More from Merriam-Webster on trauma

Spanish Central: Translation of trauma

Nglish: Translation of trauma for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of trauma for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about trauma

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