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 Does the person have a mood, anxiety, alcohol or other substance use disorder, a major physical illness or a history of trauma, abuse or suicide in the family? Sandee Lamotte, CNN, "World Suicide Prevention Day: Here's how to help," 10 Sep. 2020 And in case that wasn't enough trauma, his dad — also named Hugh (and played by Simon Pegg) — was kidnapped by A-Train at the end of season 1 (papa Hugh was later rescued, unlike the deceased girlfriend). Rachel Paige,, "What You Actually Need To Remember From The Boys Season 1," 6 Sep. 2020 Murphree responded that Covid-19 can be listed on that person’s death certificate, even if the cause and manner of the death is related to trauma from a car crash. al, "Tall tales and conspiracy theories: Alabama experts battle coronavirus misinformation," 6 Sep. 2020 On top of disproportionate impacts of historical trauma, discrimination, and violence, communities of color are getting hospitalized and dying from COVID-19 at disproportionate rates. Lauren Krouse, SELF, "How to Advocate for Victims and Survivors of Domestic Violence During Coronavirus," 2 Sep. 2020 The summer of trauma, where the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and now Jacob Blake, have dominated the news, has been too much to take. Greg Moore, The Arizona Republic, "Moore: Could NFL strike against police brutality? Maybe. The movement isn't stopping," 31 Aug. 2020 Beneath the bark lie buds that remain dormant until activated by some trauma – lighting, fire, or wind. Francine Kiefer, The Christian Science Monitor, "‘We’re not dead yet’: Big Basin redwoods scorched, but not lost.," 28 Aug. 2020 Behind every Viking raid, usually visualized today as an arrow or name on a map, was the appalling trauma visited upon all people at the moment of enslavement, the disbelieving experience of passing from person to property in seconds. Neil Price, Smithsonian Magazine, "The Little-Known Role of Slavery in Viking Society," 25 Aug. 2020 For those with unresolved trauma, Stauffer says psilocybin can prompt a reconciliation that would have been impossible for the patient to withstand on their own. oregonlive, "Oregon could herald a research-driven psychedelic renaissance: Psilocybin helped a Navy SEAL cope, could aide many more if voters say yes," 2 Sep. 2020

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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Time Traveler for trauma

Time Traveler

The first known use of trauma was circa 1693

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Statistics for trauma

Last Updated

17 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Trauma.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for trauma


How to pronounce trauma (audio) How to pronounce trauma (audio)

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

Nglish: Translation of trauma for Spanish Speakers

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

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