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

Among the lawmakers, U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters called for impeachment, while Sen. Kamala Harris pointed to how migrant children taken from their parents will suffer lifelong trauma. Fox News, "Thousands rally nationwide for illegal immigrant families separated at border," 2 Oct. 2018 Chronic depression is blunt force trauma to the head, locking you into a pattern of negative thought and throwing away the key. Alice Levitt, Vox, "I tried ketamine to treat my depression. Within a day, I felt relief.," 24 July 2018 One 20-year old woman suffered major leg trauma while other passengers had burns and scrapes, according to the state's Department of Land and National Resources. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Lava Erupting From Kilauea Hits Hawaiian Tour Boat, Injuring 13," 16 July 2018 According to Italian media, Clooney suffered slight trauma to the pelvis and bruises to one knee and arm. Dana Rose Falcone,, "George Clooney Was Wearing a Helmet During Scooter Accident in Italy That Left Him Bruised," 10 July 2018 Many instructors, like Kathryn Cornelius, have experienced trauma themselves. Woman's Day Staff, Woman's Day, "This Yoga Program Helps Victims of Domestic Violence Heal," 5 July 2018 The reports say 2-year-old Lorenzo Velasquez and 9-month-old Brooklyn Velasquez didn't have any drugs in their bodies or suffer any trauma. Uriel J. Garcia, azcentral, "Medical examiner: Exposure killed 2 children found dead in car," 3 July 2018 Even the Trump family belongs together.’’ At the Los Angeles rally, Representative Maxine Waters called for Trump’s impeachment, while Senator Kamala Harris said migrant children taken from their parents will suffer lifelong trauma. Washington Post,, "Hundreds of thousands march across US to protest family separation policy," 30 June 2018 Testerman, who would have turned 62 Monday, suffered trauma to her upper body, police said. Sarah Meehan,, "Baltimore County police believe man killed his stepmother, then her Rosedale neighbor," 27 June 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

19 Nov 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

Comments on trauma

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by force of circumstances

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