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  1. characteristic or suggestive of tragedy: tragic solemnity.
  2. extremely mournful, melancholy, or pathetic: a tragic plight.
  3. dreadful, calamitous, disastrous, or fatal: a tragic event.
  4. of, pertaining to, characterized by, or of the nature of tragedy: the tragic drama.
  5. acting in or writing tragedy: a tragic actor; a tragic poet.
  1. the tragic, the element or quality of tragedy in literature, art, drama, etc.: lives that had never known anything but the tragic.
Sometimes trag·i·cal (for defs 1–3).

Origin of tragic

1535–45; < Latin tragicus < Greek tragikós of tragedy, equivalent to trág(os) goat + -ikos -ic
Related formstrag·i·cal·ly, adverbtrag·i·cal·ness, nounhy·per·trag·ic, adjectivehy·per·trag·i·cal, adjectivehy·per·trag·i·cal·ly, adverbnon·trag·ic, adjectivenon·trag·i·cal, adjectivenon·trag·i·cal·ly, adverbnon·trag·i·cal·ness, nounqua·si-trag·ic, adjectivequa·si-trag·i·cal·ly, adverbsu·per·trag·ic, adjectivesu·per·trag·i·cal·ly, adverbun·trag·ic, adjectiveun·trag·i·cal, adjectiveun·trag·i·cal·ly, adverbun·trag·i·cal·ness, noun


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2. distressing, pitiful.


1–3. comic.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for tragic

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • These excepted, the only survivors of this tragic scene were Capts.

  • And before her, always, she saw the tragic women of the wards.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • Now he had a son, and the child's mother looked at him with tragic eyes.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • It is tragic how few people ever ‘possess their souls’ before they die.

    De Profundis

    Oscar Wilde

  • That is not such a tragic thing as possibly it sounds to you.

    De Profundis

    Oscar Wilde

British Dictionary definitions for tragic


less commonly tragical (ˈtrædʒɪkəl)

  1. of, relating to, or characteristic of tragedy
  2. mournful or pitiablea tragic face
Derived Formstragically, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for tragic


1540s, "calamitous, disastrous, fatal," shortened from tragical (late 15c.), modeled on Latin tragicus, from Greek tragikos "of or pertaining to tragedy," literally "of or pertaining to a goat," and probably referring to a satyr impersonated by a goat singer or satyric actor (see tragedy). Tragic flaw (1913) translates Greek hamartia.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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