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From the Middle English tragedie, from the Old French tragedie, from the Latin tragoedia, from the Ancient Greek τραγῳδία (tragōidía, epic play, tragedy), from τράγος (trágos, male goat) + ᾠδή (ōidḗ, song), a reference to the goat-satyrs of the theatrical plays of the Dorians.


  • IPA(key): /ˈtɹæd͡ʒɛdi/, /ˈtɹæd͡ʒɪdi/
  • Hyphenation: trag‧e‧dy
  • Audio (US):(file)



tragedy (countable and uncountable, plural tragedies)

  1. A drama or similar work, in which the main character is brought to ruin or otherwise suffers the extreme consequences of some tragic flaw or weakness of character.
    Antonym: comedy
  2. The genre of such works, and the art of producing them.
    Antonym: comedy
  3. A disastrous event, especially one involving great loss of life or injury.
    • 1904–1905, Baroness Orczy [i.e., Emma Orczy], “The Tragedy in Dartmoor Terrace”, in The Case of Miss Elliott, London: T[homas] Fisher Unwin, published 1905, →OCLC; republished as popular edition, London: Greening & Co., 1909, OCLC 11192831, quoted in The Case of Miss Elliott (ebook no. 2000141h.html), Australia: Project Gutenberg of Australia, February 2020:
      “The story of this adoption is, of course, the pivot round which all the circumstances of the mysterious tragedy revolved. Mrs. Yule had an only son, namely, William, to whom she was passionately attached ; but, like many a fond mother, she had the desire of mapping out that son's future entirely according to her own ideas. []
    • 2015, Alison Matthews David, Fashion Victims: The Damages of Dress Past and Present, →ISBN, page 142:
      After the terrible tragedy of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in 1911, which killed 146 New York garment workers, proper fire drilling was considered a necessity.

Derived terms



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