trau·​mat·​ic | \ trə-ˈma-tik How to pronounce traumatic (audio) , trȯ-, trau̇-\

Definition of traumatic

1 : psychologically or emotionally stressful in a way that can lead to serious mental and emotional problems The report … revealed that the onset of bulimic behavior tends to be associated with voluntary dieting and with traumatic events such as the loss of a loved one.— Ralph Heussner He's been open and frank about his traumatic childhood scarred by violence and domestic abuse.— Stephen Milton broadly : causing distress or anxiety The traumatic experience of the Wall Street crash and the long depression of the 1930s has gradually faded from memory … — Jack Revell The arrival of mass tourism in a previously unspoilt area … was certainly traumatic. — Graham Robb When The New York Times's Amy Spindler broke the story about Barneys' problems paying vendors, Charles Bunstine threatened to have her fired. "It was the most traumatic day of my career," she recalls. — Jennet Conant
2 medical : relating to, being, or caused by a sudden, severe, often life-threatening injury to the body … the lone medical centers in the Triad to treat victims of traumatic injuries such as life-threatening car wrecks or shootings.— Pat Kimbrough Three years ago, she was in a traumatic car crash that shattered her pelvis, and caused numerous other injuries.— Brad Gillman There have been reports of shrapnel causing a traumatic fistula between the right coronary artery and the right atrium.— Matthias Eikermann et al. also : involving or causing tissue damage or physical stress The artery-dilating procedure, which uses a balloon or other device guided to the restricted artery by a cardiac catheter, is less invasive and traumatic than coronary artery bypass surgery. — Andrew Skolnick Open-heart surgery has become all but routine in recent years, although still physically traumatic. — Ralph T. King, Jr. — see also chronic traumatic encephalopathy, post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury

First Known Use of traumatic

1650, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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Last Updated

23 Apr 2019

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The first known use of traumatic was in 1650

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English Language Learners Definition of traumatic

: causing someone to become very upset in a way that can lead to serious mental and emotional problems
medical : related to or caused by a severe injury to your body


trau·​mat·​ic | \ trə-ˈmat-ik, trȯ-, trau̇- How to pronounce traumatic (audio) \

Medical Definition of traumatic

: of, relating to, resulting from, or causing a trauma cases of traumatic ruptureJournal of the American Medical Association a traumatic experience

Other Words from traumatic

traumatically \ -​i-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce traumatically (audio) \ adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on traumatic

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for traumatic

Spanish Central: Translation of traumatic

Nglish: Translation of traumatic for Spanish Speakers

Comments on traumatic

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


a strong desire or propensity

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