from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Bad fortune or ill luck.
  • noun The condition resulting from bad fortune or ill luck.
  • noun A distressing occurrence.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To fall out unfortunately or unhappily; fail or miscarry.
  • noun Ill fortune; especially, adverse fortune for which the sufferer is not directly responsible; adversity.
  • noun An unfortunate event or circumstance; a mishap or accident; anything that causes harm or disappointment: as, he had the misfortune to break his leg; it was his misfortune, not his fault.
  • noun A lapse from virtue.
  • noun Synonyms Mischance, Mishap, Misfortune, Disaster, Calamity, Catastrophe, misadventure, ill, harm, reverse, blow, stroke, trouble. The first six words are arranged in the order of strength: they agree in denoting untoward events, produced by causes presumably independent of the sufferer. Mischance is the lightest word for that which is really disagreeable; a mishap may be comparatively a trivial thing; both generally apply to the experience of individuals. Misfortune is the most general of these words; a misfortune is a really serious matter; it may befall a person, family, or nation. A very serious misfortune affecting large numbers is a calamity, the central idea of which is wide-spread and general mischief. A disaster is not necessarily wide-spread; it is generally sudden, and its importance is in its effects upon other interests, as marring or ruining particular plans, hopes, courses, or conditions of things. A disaster may befall an individual; a calamity can come to an individual only by affecting his welfare largely, or bringing him into deep distress. A catastrophe is strictly a great misfortune bringing things to an end, a final crash, a finishing stroke: as, this brought on the catastrophe. See affliction.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun Bad fortune or luck; calamity; an evil accident; disaster; mishap; mischance.
  • intransitive verb obsolete To happen unluckily or unfortunately; to miscarry; to fail.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun bad luck
  • noun an undesirable event such as an accident

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun an unfortunate state resulting from unfavorable outcomes
  • noun unnecessary and unforeseen trouble resulting from an unfortunate event


Sorry, no etymologies found.


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  • A man awakens to find himself in poverty instead of in wealth; his possessions suddenly swept away; or from health, he, or some one whose life is still dearer to him than his own, prostrated with illness; or to find himself unjustly accused or maligned, or misunderstood, or to encounter some other of the myriad phases of what he calls misfortune and tribulation.

    The Life Radiant Lilian Whiting

  • Yet she could feel for her father, in spite of the fact that whatever her accent or grammatical mistakes, her mother's conduct was always right and her father, with his charming air, a little blurred by what he called misfortune, his clear speech to which Henrietta loved to listen, was fundamentally unsound.

    The Misses Mallett The Bridge Dividing 1914

  • That your misfortune is the result of a concerted plan on the part of Le Noir and his tool, I partly see, but I wish you to put me in possession of all the facts, that I may see in what manner I may be able to assist you.

    The Hidden Hand 1888

  • General Monk's "misfortune" is no less a calamity than his marriage.

    Letters from Dorothy Osborne to Sir William Temple (1652-54) 1888

  • When a soul, in the course of evolution, has succeeded in impressing its vibration -- its thought -- on a brain which it has refined and made responsive by a training which purifies the entire nature of the man, it is able to transmit to the incarnated consciousness the memory of its past lives; but this memory then ceases to be painful or dangerous, for the soul has not only exhausted the greater part of its karma of suffering, it also possesses the strength necessary to sustain its personality, whenever a foreboding of what we call misfortune comes upon it.

    Reincarnation A Study in Human Evolution Th. Pascal

  • _honour_ from their sufferance; who think it enough to sit still under the murderous blows of what they call misfortune, fate, _Providence_, when it is their own im-_providence_; who think it is enough to sit still, and cry, _Alack_! without inquiring what it is that makes that

    The Philosophy of the Plays of Shakspere Unfolded Delia Bacon 1835

  • Part of its misfortune is due to Hewlett-Packard Co., which is down more than 18% so far this year and recently was about 4.6% of the Dodge & Cox fund's portfolio.

    Tax-Saving Trades Jonathan Burton 2010

  • This misfortune is divided between the people who own hops and the people who pick hops.


  • Our misfortune is doubly hard to us; we have not only lost that lovely darling boy, but this poor girl, whom I sincerely love, is to be torn away by even a worse fate.

    Chapter 6 2010

  • Only your misfortune is responsible for sending Rama into exile and there is no other reason and you must consider it as your good fortune that you would be getting an opportunity to serve Rama and Sita while in exile.

    Motherhood Messages From Mythology: a Study of Four Queens as Mothers in Indian Epics Ramayana and Mahabharata « English Lesson Plans « Free Lesson Plans « Literacy News 2010


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  • I like this word -- it's like a treasure trove of oopsies!

    September 5, 2007

  • Citation on shit.

    I like this word, and I like uselessness's inaugural comment, too.

    June 29, 2008