trau·​mat·​ic trə-ˈma-tik How to pronounce traumatic (audio)
: 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
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
trə-ˈma-ti-k(ə-)lē How to pronounce traumatic (audio)

Examples of traumatic in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web There was a group of five friends who were backpacking on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park along the Kanab Creek when one of them, a 63-year-old male, had fallen and had a traumatic injury to his shoulder that needed emergency medical at...tention and evacuation. Emily Mae Czachor, CBS News, 19 Sep. 2023 The second is inspired by Erin Doom’s novel about two very different orphans with similarly traumatic pasts who are adopted together by the same new family. Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter, 19 Sep. 2023 Research has shown that low-inome adults are not only more likely to be exposed to trauma, but also much more likely to be diagnosed with PTSD after a traumatic event. Laura Newberry, Los Angeles Times, 19 Sep. 2023 The cast came together to mourn Saget, who died unexpectedly in 2022 from a traumatic head injury. Kelly Wynne, Peoplemag, 16 Sep. 2023 Some of those stories are traumatic, but a lot of them are just bizarre. Alex Jhamb Burns, Vogue, 15 Sep. 2023 Read full article The fumes caused internal burns and would later trigger post traumatic stress. Danny McDonald,, 12 Sep. 2023 Researchers are learning more about bullying to understand how these traumatic social interactions impact a child’s developing brain. Emilie Le Beau Lucchesi, Discover Magazine, 5 Sep. 2023 If adopted early enough, the right tweaks will not only help to ease immediate symptoms, but could also help make your transition through to menopause less traumatic. Georgia Day, Vogue, 6 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'traumatic.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1650, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of traumatic was in 1650

Dictionary Entries Near traumatic

Cite this Entry

“Traumatic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Sep. 2023.

Medical Definition


trau·​mat·​ic trə-ˈmat-ik, trȯ-, trau̇- How to pronounce traumatic (audio)
: of, relating to, resulting from, or causing a trauma
cases of traumatic ruptureJournal of the American Medical Association
a traumatic experience
traumatically adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on traumatic

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