Tragedy is a noun that indicates disaster or bad fortune. It would be a tragedy to lose your job, but an even greater tragedy to fall ill while unemployed and without health care.

First recorded in the late 14th century, the noun tragedy originally referred to a play with an unhappy ending. About a century later it also came to mean an unhappy event or a disaster. The playwright George Bernard Shaw wittily observed, "“There are two tragedies in life. One is to lose your heart's desire. The other is to gain it.” The comedian Mel Brooks defined tragedy as follows: "Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die."

Definitions of tragedy

n an event resulting in great loss and misfortune

calamity, cataclysm, catastrophe, disaster
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act of God, force majeure, inevitable accident, unavoidable casualty, vis major
a natural and unavoidable catastrophe that interrupts the expected course of events
a cosmic cataclysm in which God destroys the ruling powers of evil
a severe shortage of food (as through crop failure) resulting in violent hunger and starvation and death
kiss of death
something that is ruinous
a disaster comparable to a nuclear meltdown
any large scale calamity (especially when thought to be sent by God)
any disaster or catastrophe
tidal wave
an unusual (and often destructive) rise of water along the seashore caused by a storm or a combination of wind and high tide
a cataclysm resulting from a destructive sea wave caused by an earthquake or volcanic eruption
the Great Calamity, the Great Hunger, the Great Starvation, the Irish Famine
a famine in Ireland resulting from a potato blight; between 1846 and 1851 a million people starved to death and 1.6 million emigrated (most to America)
Type of:
bad luck, misfortune
unnecessary and unforeseen trouble resulting from an unfortunate event

n drama in which the protagonist is overcome by some superior force or circumstance; excites terror or pity

light and humorous drama with a happy ending
a dramatic composition involving elements of both tragedy and comedy usually with the tragic predominating
Type of:
the literary genre of works intended for the theater

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