trau·​ma | \ ˈtrȯ-mə How to pronounce trauma (audio) also ˈtrau̇- How to pronounce trauma (audio) \
plural traumas also traumata\ ˈtrȯ-​mə-​tə also  ˈtrau̇-​ How to pronounce traumata (audio) \

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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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

Udell, a mother of two and grandmother of six, suffered severe head trauma, bleeding in her brain and second- and third-degree burns. Juan Ortega,, "Deadly delivery: Suspect in vicious Boca murder has had run-ins with the law before," 23 Aug. 2019 The event was raising money for a nonprofit group in Flint that helps children who have experienced trauma. John Wisely, Detroit Free Press, "How a Flint court battle became Mateen Cleaves' most divisive victory," 21 Aug. 2019 Justice is the idea that people shouldn’t have to experience a trauma in the first place. Georgia Frances King, Quartz, "Deray Mckesson talks to one of Africa’s biggest activists about reparations, equality, and reconciliation," 20 Aug. 2019 Lockett and Oglesby grew much closer around this time because Lockett suffered very similar trauma. Madeline Mitchell,, "#LolaStrong: Fundraiser in place for daughters of Dayton victim," 8 Aug. 2019 Even those who were not on the island during the storm experienced secondhand trauma, Rosario said. Jeannette Hinkle, azcentral, "Phoenix protesters demand resignation of Puerto Rico governor after offensive messages and corruption," 18 July 2019 Dark Phoenix is about an idealistic man experiencing a woman’s trauma as a catalyst to confront his own demons. Anne Cohen,, "Dark Phoenix Isn’t Quite As Bad As The Game of Thrones Finale, But It’s Close," 7 June 2019 Especially children who have experienced serious trauma and are separated from their families and all that is familiar. Anita Kulick,, "‘For-now’ parents, bio parents, and Sesame Street: Changing the pattern of foster care," 5 June 2019 The Yolo County Coroner’s Office later reported the cause of death as blunt force trauma to her head. The Daily Democrat, The Mercury News, "Arrest in killing of woman found dead in CVS parking lot," 5 Aug. 2019

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

17 Sep 2019

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 How to pronounce trauma (audio) , ˈtrau̇- How to pronounce trauma (audio) \
plural traumas also traumata\ -​mət-​ə How to pronounce traumata (audio) \

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

Comments on trauma

What made you want to look up trauma? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


authorized for issue (as a bond)

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