trib·​u·​la·​tion | \ ˌtri-byə-ˈlā-shən How to pronounce tribulation (audio) \

Definition of tribulation

: distress or suffering resulting from oppression or persecution also : a trying experience the trials and tribulations of starting a new business

Keep scrolling for more

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 typically used as a plural noun, paired with its alliterative partner trial, and relates less to oppression and more to any kind of uphill struggle. Tribulation derives via Middle English and Old French from the Latin verb tribulare ("to oppress or afflict"), which is related to tribulum, a 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 The most affecting part of the book is how Mr. Kilmer writes about the tribulation of being stripped of one of the primary tools of his craft – his voice. Stephen Humphries, The Christian Science Monitor, "‘I’m Your Huckleberry’: Val Kilmer’s candid take on Hollywood and healing," 11 June 2020 Even as his writing has increasingly focused less on his own trials and tribulations and more on those of the world around him, Isbell’s years of hard-living have added a gravitas to his music that hasn’t gone unnoticed. David Peisner, New York Times, "Jason Isbell, Self-Doubt and the Album That Tested His Marriage," 11 May 2020 This is also, however, not a time to shrink back, but to move forward, prayerfully and faithfully in the Lord Jesus Christ, who reminded us that tribulations and suffering would surely come. Ben Tobin, The Courier-Journal, "Kentucky church leader vows to hold Easter services even after getting Beshear stop order," 8 Apr. 2020 Because throughout their trials, tribulations and triumphs, the people in this book were my people. Nic Stone, Washington Post, "Jacqueline Woodson hooked me with her kid lit. Her new adult novel is even more powerful.," 19 Sep. 2019 Zero waste at home In her Sept. 23 presentation about the tribulations and secrets to achieving zero waste at home, Bea Johnson will cover the importance of applying her 5Rs—Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot—in order. Anne Gelhaus, The Mercury News, "Cupertino community briefs for the week of Sept. 13," 13 Sep. 2019 My time at Spelman was a unique experience but much like anyone else’s college experience, it was filled with trials, tribulations, and triumphs. Keo O'neal, Teen Vogue, "What It’s Like to Be a Transgender Man at Spelman College," 20 June 2018 Black History Month is a time to remember the incremental steps, major trials, spiritual tribulations, and ultimate triumphs that brought us here, celebrating the black excellence that has truly made America great, even when troubled and evolving. NBC News, "#BLKHistory: Black history. Your history. Our history.," 1 Feb. 2018 Alabama hires Nick Saban Alabama football was delivered from more than a decade of tribulation the moment Nick Saban got off a private plane at Tuscaloosa Regional Airport on Jan. 3, 2007. Mark Inabinett |, al, "Alabama 200: See top 10 sports moments in Alabama history," 27 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tribulation.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of tribulation

13th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for tribulation

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about tribulation

Time Traveler for tribulation

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast about tribulation

Statistics for tribulation

Last Updated

16 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Tribulation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Aug. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for tribulation


How to pronounce tribulation (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of tribulation

: unhappiness, pain, or suffering
: an experience that causes someone to suffer


trib·​u·​la·​tion | \ ˌtri-byə-ˈlā-shən How to pronounce tribulation (audio) \

Kids Definition of tribulation

1 : an experience that is hard to bear He suffered many trials and tribulations.
2 : distress or suffering resulting from cruel and unjust treatment or misfortune Her son's illness has been a source of tribulation.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on tribulation

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


Test Your Vocabulary

July 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • papercraft sunset
  • Which is a synonym of mien?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!