a lamentable, dreadful, or fatal event or affair; calamity; disaster: stunned by the tragedy of so many deaths.
a dramatic composition, often in verse, dealing with a serious or somber theme, typically involving a great person destined to experience downfall or utter destruction, as through a character flaw or conflict with some overpowering force, as fate or an unyielding society.
the branch of the drama that is concerned with this form of composition.
the art and theory of writing and producing tragedies.
any literary composition, as a novel, dealing with a somber theme carried to a tragic or disastrous conclusion.
the tragic or mournful or calamitous element of drama, of literature generally, or of life.
- non·trag·e·dy, noun, plural non·trag·e·dies.
- pro·trag·e·dy, adjective
- su·per·trag·e·dy, noun, plural su·per·trag·e·dies.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use tragedy in a sentence
Right now we have a president who turns our tragedies into political weapons.My Dad served in WWII — he was a hero, not a loser | Peter Rosenstein | September 10, 2020 | Washington Blade
The skit compares the Death Star’s destruction to the heinous tragedy that befell America nineteen years ago.Amid geopolitical tensions, ‘Mulan’ is a litmus test for loyalties | rhhackettfortune | September 9, 2020 | Fortune
The video of Jacob Blake’s shooting feels like a repeat of the same kind of tragedy, showing an officer repeatedly shooting Blake in the back.Violent protests against police brutality in the ’60s and ’90s changed public opinion | German Lopez | August 28, 2020 | Vox
The pandemic has been an unprecedented event on a truly planetary scale, one that has sadly given people all over the world a unifying human experience through tragedy.
The past few months have taught us once again that the greatest tragedies in the world do not affect everyone equally.Let’s lead the return to prosperity by protecting the vulnerable | Rich Lesser | July 15, 2020 | Quartz
When twelve people are killed by violence, whoever they are, for whatever reason, that is a tragedy and a waste.
It generates tragedy, violence, and a windfall for undertakers.Why Mexicans Are Enraged by Obama’s Big Tuesday Meeting | Ruben Navarrette Jr. | January 6, 2015 | THE DAILY BEAST
Yes, publicizing tragedy gets clicks, gets ad revenue, gets notoriety, and can be done for all the wrong reasons.Cover-Ups and Concern Trolls: Actually, It's About Ethics in Suicide Journalism | Arthur Chu | January 3, 2015 | THE DAILY BEAST
Does the sending of the message “justify” the tragedy that caused it?Cover-Ups and Concern Trolls: Actually, It's About Ethics in Suicide Journalism | Arthur Chu | January 3, 2015 | THE DAILY BEAST
The fate of AirAsia Flight 8501 and the 162 souls on board is a tragedy, but it will not remain a mystery for much longer.
Several pioneers familiar with the facts of the tragedy at the time of its occurrence were also present.Among the Sioux | R. J. Creswell
Happening to walk down the Rue Saint Honoré, he had come upon tragedy.The Joyous Adventures of Aristide Pujol | William J. Locke
A heaviness as of unguessed tragedy lay upon all three, not only upon Tom.The Wave | Algernon Blackwood
She had seen little of the tragedy enacted in Meerut; she knew less of its real horrors.The Red Year | Louis Tracy
She produced the tragedy of Agnes de Castro in her 17th year, which was followed by several others.The Every Day Book of History and Chronology | Joel Munsell
British Dictionary definitions for tragedy
(esp in classical and Renaissance drama) a play in which the protagonist, usually a man of importance and outstanding personal qualities, falls to disaster through the combination of a personal failing and circumstances with which he cannot deal
(in later drama, such as that of Ibsen) a play in which the protagonist is overcome by a combination of social and psychological circumstances
any dramatic or literary composition dealing with serious or sombre themes and ending with disaster
(in medieval literature) a literary work in which a great person falls from prosperity to disaster, often through no fault of his own
the branch of drama dealing with such themes
the unfortunate aspect of something
a shocking or sad event; disaster
- Compare comedy
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
Cultural definitions for tragedy
A serious drama in which a central character, the protagonist — usually an important, heroic person — meets with disaster either through some personal fault or through unavoidable circumstances. In most cases, the protagonist's downfall conveys a sense of human dignity in the face of great conflict. Tragedy originated in ancient Greece in the works of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. In modern times, it achieved excellence with William Shakespeare in such works as Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth, and Othello. Twentieth-century tragedies include Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller, and Murder in the Cathedral, by T. S. Eliot.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.