trib·u·la·tion | \ˌtri-byə-ˈlā-shən \

Definition of tribulation 

: 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 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

Debbie complains to Tammé the tribulations of being outnumbered by Sam and Bash. Rachel Vorona Cote, The New Republic, "In GLOW, Who Gets To Be Empowered?," 28 June 2018 But the parts of the Reuters article that would ultimately cause the Breitmans the greatest tribulation were the ones that all but openly identified the Tezos ICO as a sale of unregistered securities. Gideon Lewis-kraus, WIRED, "The Blockchain: A Love Story—And a Horror Story," 18 June 2018 For many, the terrors back in their homelands — in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — supersede the tribulations especially engineered for them by the U.S. government. Cindy Carcamo,, "At the border, mothers prepare to make an agonizing choice," 25 June 2018 Tourette's camp tribulations aside, Conroe admitted in his pre-audition video that growing up consisted of many challenges, beyond the physical. Abby Jones, Billboard, "Comedian With Tourette Syndrome Earns Unanimous 'Yes' From 'America's Got Talent' Judges: Watch," 13 June 2018 Fassbinder devotes much of the episode to their search for a home, detailing the costs and tribulations associated with each potential domicile. Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader, "When Rainer Werner Fassbinder cheered up," 17 May 2018 The Book of Revelations helped establish a key tenet: that before the return of Christ there would be immense turmoil and tribulation. Liya Rechtman,, "When the apocalypse is a feature, not a bug," 12 May 2018 On April 17 the Mason girls lacrosse team held a fundraising game The Enquirer/Scott Springer MASON - In just a tad over 14 years, Maya Collins of Mason experienced more trials and tribulations than anyone should in a lifetime. Scott Springer,, "Maya's fiesty, strong spirit pays kindness forward at Mason, Kings lacrosse game," 18 Apr. 2018 Whatever else can be said about Facebook’s recent tribulations, this much is certain: Its situation is far from perfection. James B. Stewart, New York Times, "Facebook Falls From Grace, and Investors’ Stock Holdings Tumble Too," 29 Mar. 2018

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.

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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

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Phrases Related to tribulation

trials and tribulations

Statistics for tribulation

Last Updated

7 Oct 2018

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

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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 \

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.

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