n. pl. trag·e·dies
a. A drama or literary work in which the main character is brought to ruin or suffers extreme sorrow, especially as a consequence of a tragic flaw, moral weakness, or inability to cope with unfavorable circumstances.
b. The genre made up of such works.
c. The art or theory of writing or producing these works.
2. A play, film, television program, or other narrative work that portrays or depicts calamitous events and has an unhappy but meaningful ending.
3. A disastrous event, especially one involving distressing loss or injury to life: an expedition that ended in tragedy, with all hands lost at sea.
4. A tragic aspect or element.
[Middle English tragedie, from Old French, from Latin tragoedia, from Greek tragōidiā : tragos, goat; see TRAGIC + aoidē, ōidē, song; see wed-2 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots and (Greek tragedy probably being so called because it developed from a ritual or festival procession involving a goat as the sacrifice or the prize for the composition of a song, or perhaps because festival participants wore animal masks and skins, including those of goats).]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.