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

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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

Their new bundle of joy comes after several trials and tribulations. Hanna Flanagan,, "Former NFL Star Devon Still and Wife Asha Welcome a Baby Girl: 'We're Blessed'," 31 Aug. 2019 Tang said the mural depicts the trials and tribulations of parents and grandparents who sacrificed everything for a better life. San Diego Union-Tribune, "City Heights mural depicts Vietnamese refugee stories," 28 Aug. 2019 From a group of savvy strippers in Hustlers, to the trials and tribulations of being a 19th-century teenager in Little Women, there's something for every moviegoer this fall. Christian Allaire, Vogue, "The Buzziest Movies Coming Out This Fall Are All Directed by Women," 26 Aug. 2019 Three of the men had been incapacitated due to the trials and tribulations of the journey, leaving only Shackleton and two others to complete the journey. Tim Jarvis, Quartz, "Ernest Shackleton’s story teaches us leadership—and also how to fight climate change," 23 Aug. 2019 In this time of tribulation, many of El Paso’s people turn to religious traditions for comfort and strength. Washington Post, "Many turn to El Paso’s Catholic traditions after massacre," 9 Aug. 2019 In this South Korean series set in a world in which an app alerts users that someone nearby likes them, a group of young people experience the trials and tribulations of young love. Nina Zafar, Washington Post, "What to watch on TV tonight: ‘The Flay List’ premieres on Food Network," 22 Aug. 2019 Listening to Ready to Die, listening to Biggie‘s ups and downs, trials and tribulations through song, that whole album helped me with getting through tough times as a kid. Marcus Jones,, "A$AP Ferg explains why he needed to recruit female rappers for his new Floor Seats EP," 17 Aug. 2019 Ed understands the trials and tribulations of trying and not making it and being able to go on after that. Emily Ludolph, New York Times, "Ed Dwight Was Set to Be the First Black Astronaut. Here’s Why That Never Happened.," 16 July 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.

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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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Statistics for tribulation

Last Updated

9 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for tribulation

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 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.

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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).


readily or continually undergoing change

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