[ trou-muh, traw- ]
/ ˈtraʊ mə, ˈtrɔ- /
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noun, plural trau·mas, trau·ma·ta [trou-muh-tuh, traw-]. /ˈtraʊ mə tə, ˈtrɔ-/.
  1. a body wound or shock produced by sudden physical injury, as from violence or accident.
  2. the condition produced by this; traumatism.
  1. an experience that produces psychological injury or pain.
  2. the psychological injury so caused.
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Origin of trauma

First recorded in 1685–95, trauma is from the Greek word traûma wound
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What does trauma mean?

Trauma refers to a sudden, serious body injury or shock, as from violence or an accident, as in The car accident resulted in trauma to the arms and legs of the passenger.

Trauma also refers to a serious psychological injury or emotional pain, as from being involved in a disturbing or horrible incident, as in The trauma caused by years of war still gives the soldier nightmares. 

Trauma is also used to refer to the specific incidents that cause both of these types of serious damage, as in The flood survivors never spoke of the trauma they experienced that day. 

Example: The victim suffered from internal bleeding caused by repeated trauma to the chest.

Where does trauma come from?

The first records of trauma come from around 1685. It comes from the Greek word traûma, meaning “wound.” We use the word trauma to refer to both physical and mental wounds and the incidents that cause them.

When it comes to bodily injuries, trauma is often used to refer to especially serious injury to vital organs (organs, like your heart, that you can live without) or significant wounds. You often hear the word trauma used in hospitals, especially when emergency rooms or surgery wards are involved. Trauma is also commonly used in criminal justice situations, as when police discuss violent crimes.

When it comes to psychological or emotional pain, trauma results from extreme events, especially violent ones, such as fighting in a war. Psychological trauma often requires extensive counseling or therapy to lessen the severity. People often suffer from psychological trauma for the rest of their lives.

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What are some other forms related to trauma?

  • traumatic (adjective)
  • traumatically (adverb)

What are some synonyms for trauma?

What are some words that share a root or word element with trauma

What are some words that often get used in discussing trauma?

How is trauma used in real life?

The word trauma is used to describe especially serious injuries or disturbing incidents.



Try using trauma!

Which of the following is a synonym of trauma?

A. wound
B. bruise
C. cut
D. infection

How to use trauma in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for trauma

/ (ˈtrɔːmə) /

noun plural -mata (-mətə) or -mas
psychol a powerful shock that may have long-lasting effects
pathol any bodily injury or wound

Derived forms of trauma

traumatic (trɔːˈmætɪk), adjectivetraumatically, adverb

Word Origin for trauma

C18: from Greek: a wound
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

Medical definitions for trauma

[ trômə, trou- ]

n. pl. trau•mas
A serious bodily injury or shock, as from violence or an accident.
A severely disturbing experience that leads to lasting psychological or emotional impairment.

Other words from trauma

trau•matic (-mătĭk) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Scientific definitions for trauma

[ trômə, trou- ]

Severe bodily injury, as from a gunshot wound or a motor vehicle accident.
Psychological or emotional injury caused by a deeply disturbing experience.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for trauma

[ (trow-muh, traw-muh) ]

Wounds that result from sudden physical injury or violence.

notes for trauma

The term is frequently used to describe an emotional shock that causes serious psychological damage.
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.