trib·​u·​la·​tion ˌtri-byə-ˈlā-shən How to pronounce tribulation (audio)
: distress or suffering resulting from oppression or persecution
also : a trying experience
the trials and tribulations of starting a new business

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IT's Not Hard to Learn About Tribulation

The writer and Christian scholar Thomas More, in his 1534 work A dialoge of comforte against tribulation, defined the title word as "euery such thing as troubleth and greueth [grieveth] a man either in bodye or mynde." These days, however, the word tribulation is commonly used as a plural noun, paired with trials, and relates less to oppression and more to any kind of uphill struggle. Tribulation comes from a Latin noun meaning "threshing board."

Examples of tribulation in a Sentence

Her son's illness has been a source of great tribulation. The play is about the tribulations of a family of immigrants in New York.
Recent Examples on the Web But before that ascent, the Toronto Film Festival and its early trials, tribulations and successes served as an essential staging ground for Egoyan’s later work. Etan Vlessing, The Hollywood Reporter, 9 Sep. 2023 However, Tether's narrative was not devoid of tribulations. Sixteen Ramos, The Arizona Republic, 29 Aug. 2023 On My Block is a heartfelt and authentic portrayal of friendship, resilience, and the triumphs and tribulations of growing up. Travis Bean, Forbes, 4 May 2023 The tribulations of Cindi Mayweather, the artist’s artificial avatar, communicated to the listener that to live is to fight for a fairer future; the slick, smart, slippery funk, soul, and rock vehicles employed to spread the message also promised that beautiful music will always endure. Vulture, 9 June 2023 Take a deep breath as tribulations arise and be willing to swallow your pride in order to move forward. Meghan Rose, Glamour, 1 Aug. 2023 Even though their relationship has been marked by tribulations like a brief split and concerns over their age gap, the couple remain engaged — and may be forever. Averi Kremposky, Peoplemag, 27 June 2023 The Connecticut men’s basketball team has endured many tribulations in recent weeks. Billy Witz, New York Times, 3 Apr. 2023 There may not be a better—and certainly no more listenable—approach to dissecting race in America, the rise of youth culture, the triumph and tribulation of consumerism. Bill McKibben, The New Yorker, 28 July 2023 See More

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

Word History


Middle English tribulacion, from Anglo-French, from Latin tribulation-, tribulatio, from tribulare to press, oppress, from tribulum drag used in threshing, from terere to rub — more at throw entry 1

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of tribulation was in the 13th century


Dictionary Entries Near tribulation

Cite this Entry

“Tribulation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


trib·​u·​la·​tion ˌtrib-yə-ˈlā-shən How to pronounce tribulation (audio)
: distress or suffering resulting from cruel or unjust treatment or misfortune
: a trying experience

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