vicissitude

When you talk of the vicissitudes of life, you're referring to the difficult times that we all go through: sickness, job loss, and other unwelcome episodes. No one can escape the vicissitudes of life.

While vicissitude comes from the Latin vicis, which means "change" and technically can mean a change of any kind, you'll find that vicissitude is almost always used to talk about an unfortunate event or circumstance. Losing a pet, crashing the car, being called in for jury duty: these are examples of vicissitudes — chapters in one's life that one would rather avoid but must get through. Some lives have more vicissitudes than others, to be sure, but no life is without events that test and challenge us.

Definitions of vicissitude
  1. noun
    a variation in circumstances or fortune at different times in your life or in the development of something
    “the project was subject to the usual vicissitudes of exploratory research”
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    type of:
    fluctuation, variation
    an instance of change; the rate or magnitude of change
  2. noun
    mutability in life or nature (especially successive alternation from one condition to another)
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    type of:
    mutability, mutableness
    the quality of being capable of mutation
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