Definition of tragic in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈtradʒɪk/


1Causing or characterized by extreme distress or sorrow: the shooting was a tragic accident
More example sentences
  • Everyone at the school is extremely shaken and saddened by the tragic accident.
  • It was a tragic accident, but accidents happen in demolition all the time.
  • Three more people died on local roads in the past week in two tragic accidents
disastrous, calamitous, catastrophic, cataclysmic, devastating, terrible, dreadful, appalling, horrendous, dire, ruinous, gruesome, awful, miserable, wretched, unfortunate;
fatal, deadly, mortal, lethal
dreadful, terrible, awful, deplorable, lamentable, regrettable, abject, miserable, wretched, grievous, galling, vexatious
1.1Suffering extreme distress or sorrow: the tragic parents reached the end of their tether
More example sentences
  • The agony goes on for the parents of the tragic four-year-old as doctors remain baffled as to how he died.
  • The tragic lives of parents are never a reason to repeat the tragedy upon their children.
  • The parents of tragic Robbie are celebrating the birth of a baby daughter.
sad, unhappy, pathetic, moving, distressing, painful, sorrowful, heart-rending, agonizing, stirring, disturbing, pitiful, piteous;
melancholy, doleful, mournful, dejected, despondent, anguished, desolate, dismal, gloomy
1.2 informal Very bad or inadequate: the fact that they are so loved-up reminds me just how spectacularly tragic my life is she wears tragic cardigans, usually done up the wrong way
More example sentences
  • Oh, but the 1980s were tragic, weren't they?
  • The last film I watched: this is tragic - embarrassing - I didn't mean to but I actually got hooked up in the movie channel yesterday daytime.
  • I don't like sport, but partaking in an empty bout of national whooping and cheering simply for the sake of it would be utterly tragic.
2Relating to tragedy in a literary work: the same rules apply whether the plot is tragic or comic
More example sentences
  • The Play of King Lear is a great tragic play that many tragedies try to compare to.
  • Then again, it's a theme of war films to make tragedies all the more tragic, isn't it?
  • He was the icon in an era of icons, but like Shakespeare's tragic heroes his fatal flaws cut short a certain glittering career.


Australian /NZ informal
A boring or socially inept person, typically having an obsessive and solitary interest: at school she’s not a complete tragic, but she’s not exactly popular either
More example sentences
  • Let's face it, we're a nation of quiz show tragics.
  • This is how seriously many football tragics take the game here in Melbourne.
  • For those of us who are political tragics, the smell of battle is in the air.



Example sentences
  • In Chapter Six, Johnny meets Belladonna and loses her again, in tragical circumstances.
  • One of the things which I've learned from it all, from this - it's amazing how some - such a tragical experience can bring so much love and so much - can teach you so much.
  • In this sense, Shylock is a tragical figure instead of a comical one, because he has to make a difficult decision, either result of which will hurt himself.


Mid 16th century: from French tragique, via Latin from Greek tragikos, from tragos 'goat', but associated with tragōidia (see tragedy).

Words that rhyme with tragic

bathypelagic, magic

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: tra¦gic

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.