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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Other Words from trauma

traumatically \ trə-​ˈma-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce traumatically (audio) , 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

Townsend was flung into the air and suffered severe head trauma. Brieanna J. Frank, azcentral, "Driver was texting his wife when he hit and killed Officer Clayton Townsend, report says," 27 June 2019 In the memo, the defense requests that the court understand his history with mental illness and childhood trauma. Morgan Hines, USA TODAY, "White supremacist who plowed car into 'Unite the Right' rally to plead for mercy," 27 June 2019 Internment was a collective trauma that continues to have repercussions, with many vocal critics who argue it should never be repeated. Tracy Brown,, "Yes, Kim Kardashian’s ‘Kimono’ is cultural appropriation. And she’s not alone," 26 June 2019 Like Sylvia Plath, Richey runs together personal traumas and world-historic tragedies, often in the same lyric. Longreads, "Manic Street Preachers’ Album The Holy Bible," 25 June 2019 Prosecutors also noted that his body showed no signs of internal or external trauma. Joelle Goldstein,, "Long Island Pizzeria Owner Who Died in Dominican Republic Suffered Respiratory & Heart Failure," 25 June 2019 Gaulke’s girlfriend of four years set up a GoFundMe to raise money for his medical expenses, memorial service, and a foundation that raises awareness around brain trauma. Alison Griswold, Quartz, "Nashville’s mayor wants to ban electric scooters after a man died riding one," 24 June 2019 Rape causes severe trauma and going through the pregnancy all the way to birth serves as a constant and physically painful reminder of how her body was taken without her permission. Elizabeth Reyes Serrano, The Mercury News, "Opinion: On abortion, let’s stop blaming and punishing women," 24 June 2019 Sources told the news outlet that the children were found drowned in a bathtub, while Ausheva suffered from face and head trauma. Fox News, "Air National Guard member, 2 toddlers found dead in NYC home; husband in custody: reports," 23 June 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

2 Jul 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

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