trauma

noun
trau·​ma | \ ˈtrȯ-mə How to pronounce trauma (audio) also ˈtrau̇- How to pronounce trauma (audio) \
plural traumas also traumata\ ˈtrȯ-​mə-​tə also  ˈtrau̇-​ How to pronounce trauma (audio) \

Essential Meaning of trauma

1 : a very difficult or unpleasant experience that causes someone to have mental or emotional problems usually for a long time She never fully recovered from the traumas she suffered during her childhood. She never fully recovered from the trauma of her experiences.
2 medical : a serious injury to a person's body an accident victim with severe head trauma repeated trauma to a knee The accident victim sustained multiple traumas.

Full Definition of trauma

1a : an injury (such as a wound) to living tissue caused by an extrinsic agent
b : a disordered psychic or behavioral state resulting from severe mental or emotional stress or physical injury
c : an emotional upset the personal trauma of an executive who is not living up to his own expectations— Karen W. Arenson
2 : an agent, force, or mechanism that causes trauma

Did you know?

Trauma is the Greek word for "wound". Although the Greeks used the term only for physical injuries, nowadays trauma is just as likely to refer to emotional wounds. We now know that a traumatic event can leave psychological symptoms long after any physical injuries have healed. The psychological reaction to emotional trauma now has an established name: post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. It usually occurs after an extremely stressful event, such as wartime combat, a natural disaster, or sexual or physical abuse; its symptoms include depression, anxiety, flashbacks, and recurring nightmares.

Examples of trauma in a Sentence

She never fully recovered from the traumas she suffered during her childhood. She never fully recovered from the trauma of her experiences. an accident victim with severe head trauma repeated trauma to a knee The accident victim sustained multiple traumas.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web The Rapanui community had suffered yet another trauma, and this one struck close to home. Longreads, 19 Jan. 2022 At her job, Vest sees a variety of people, from those born with conditions that left them with missing body parts to those with cancer or physical trauma. Abigail Adams, PEOPLE.com, 19 Jan. 2022 Bryan Garrett, whose wife Autum was fatally shot, also took to the witness stand and described the physical and emotional trauma endured by his family following the shooting. Quinlan Bentley, The Enquirer, 18 Jan. 2022 The trauma has stayed with Lindsay in more ways than one. oregonlive, 18 Jan. 2022 Chinese sensitivity about foreign meddling is partly the result of historical trauma. Ian Buruma, Harper’s Magazine , 18 Jan. 2022 But already, the tale is one of searing trauma, with the broader American Jewish community now again forced to be resilient as it's reminded of the ever-present potential for disaster. Eric Levenson, CNN, 17 Jan. 2022 What was once a social novel crumbles into a grief gospel, with Jude's trauma leaking through every paragraph. Seija Rankin, EW.com, 11 Jan. 2022 For Kay, that fear of punishment mingled with a feeling of self-blame, which is a common coping mechanism after trauma. Erin Alberty, The Salt Lake Tribune, 10 Jan. 2022

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

circa 1693, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for trauma

Greek traumat-, trauma wound, alteration of trōma; akin to Greek titrōskein to wound, tetrainein to pierce — more at throw entry 1

Learn More About trauma

Time Traveler for trauma

Time Traveler

The first known use of trauma was circa 1693

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near trauma

traulism

trauma

trauma center

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for trauma

Last Updated

21 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Trauma.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/trauma. Accessed 21 Jan. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for trauma

trauma

noun
trau·​ma | \ ˈtrȯ-mə How to pronounce trauma (audio) , ˈtrau̇- How to pronounce trauma (audio) \
plural traumas also traumata\ -​mət-​ə How to pronounce trauma (audio) \

Medical Definition of trauma

1a : an injury (as a wound) to living tissue caused by an extrinsic agent surgical trauma the intra-abdominal organs at greatest risk to athletic trauma are the spleen, pancreas, and kidney— M. R. Eichelberger — see blunt trauma
b : a disordered psychic or behavioral state resulting from mental or emotional stress or physical injury
2 : an agent, force, or mechanism that causes trauma

More from Merriam-Webster on trauma

Nglish: Translation of trauma for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of trauma for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about trauma

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Flower Edition

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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