trag·​e·​dy | \ ˈtra-jə-dē How to pronounce tragedy (audio) \
plural tragedies

Definition of tragedy

1a : a disastrous event : calamity
2a : a serious drama typically describing a conflict between the protagonist and a superior force (such as destiny) and having a sorrowful or disastrous conclusion that elicits pity or terror
b : the literary genre of tragic dramas
c : a medieval narrative poem or tale typically describing the downfall of a great man
3 : tragic quality or element

Examples of tragedy in a Sentence

Her son's death was a terrible tragedy. The situation ended in tragedy when the gunman shot and killed two students. The biggest tragedy here is that the accident could have easily been prevented. “Hamlet” is one of Shakespeare's best-known tragedies. The students are studying Greek tragedy. an actor who is drawn to tragedy
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Recent Examples on the Web Video of the tragedy shows dozens of people on multiple boats at Furnas Lake in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. Paul Best, Fox News, 10 Jan. 2022 Bond films require plenty of music, much of it high-octane action material, although this installment also had its share of tragedy. Jon Burlingame, Variety, 10 Jan. 2022 Rahim’s fortunes rise and fall with the pace of a thriller and the scope of a tragedy, but in a Farhadi film, every protagonist is caught up in a larger, sadder story. Los Angeles Times, 6 Jan. 2022 No criminal charges were brought as a result of the tragedy, but the families of the victims reached a settlement with some of the companies involved in the apartment block's construction, management and maintenance, according to the BBC. Hannah Ryan, CNN, 3 Jan. 2022 In this production, despite some gripping theatrical and vocal moments, the all-consuming sense of tragedy was missing. Heidi Waleson, WSJ, 3 Jan. 2022 In the wake of the tragedy, Hay dropped out of school and began looking for work to help her mother make ends meet. Caroline Tien, San Antonio Express-News, 30 Dec. 2021 The pastor shared his own account of the tragedy on social media, after receiving permission from the Khiev family to do so. Maria Pasquini,, 30 Dec. 2021 Between deaths from homicides, drug overdoses and COVID-19, Indianapolis had an abundance of tragedy this year. Sarah Nelson, The Indianapolis Star, 29 Dec. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tragedy.' 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 tragedy

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2c

History and Etymology for tragedy

Middle English tragedie, from Middle French, from Latin tragoedia, from Greek tragōidia, from tragos goat (akin to Greek trōgein to gnaw) + aeidein to sing — more at troglodyte, ode

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The first known use of tragedy was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

13 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Tragedy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for tragedy



English Language Learners Definition of tragedy

: a very bad event that causes great sadness and often involves someone's death
: a very sad, unfortunate, or upsetting situation : something that causes strong feelings of sadness or regret
: a play, movie, etc., that is serious and has a sad ending (such as the death of the main character)


trag·​e·​dy | \ ˈtra-jə-dē How to pronounce tragedy (audio) \
plural tragedies

Kids Definition of tragedy

1 : a disastrous event
2 : a serious play that has a sad or disastrous ending

More from Merriam-Webster on tragedy

Nglish: Translation of tragedy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tragedy for Arabic Speakers


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