The Meaning of Adversity: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of adversity? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word adversity, including its definition, usage, word origin, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word adversity mean?

According to the American Heritage Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language as well as Collins English Dictionary, the word adversity is a noun in the rules of English grammar that means misfortune, hardship, distress or calamity. Someone might experience adversity or some such circumstance in childhood, and others seem to have adversity thrust upon them like fate. Times of adversity are filled with unfortunate events or a state of misfortune. This could be severe criticism, series of hurts, or physical violence that is thrust against a victim of misfortune or less fortunate of man. This is often used in literary work to show the motivation of an antagonist in simple terms. According to Samuel Foote in The Mayor of Garret, this expression is used in Julius Caesar’s mantle, which was made by his dearest friend Brutus. This is a line from Marc Antony’s famous oration over the dead Caesar’s body. The suffix ties can be added to the end of adversity to form the plural noun adversities. Adversity is four syllables – ad-ver-si-ty, and the pronunciation of adversity is Examples of ædˈvɜr sɪ ti.

Many different languages also contain words that mean adversity. You may notice that many of these words look and sound alike. These are called cognates, which are words and phrases in different languages that mean the same thing and look similar. These are often formed when words have the same root or language of origin. This list of translations of adversity is provided by Word Sense.

  •  Bulgarian: беда‎ (beda), несполука‎ (nespoluka)
  •  Dutch: tegenspoed‎, tegenslag‎
  •  Georgian: უბედურება‎, ჭირი‎, გასაჭირი‎
  •  Scottish Gaelic: ana-cothrom‎ (masc.)
  •  Romanian: adversitate‎ (fem.)
  •  Greek: αντιξοότητες‎ (fem. pl.)
  •  Norwegian: motgang‎ (masc.)
  •  Swedish: elände‎ (neut.), motgång‎ (common)
  •  Russian: беда́‎ (fem.), несча́стье‎ (neut.)
  •  Italian: avversità‎ (fem.)
  •  German: Widrigkeit‎ (fem.), Ungemach‎ (neut.) (dated)
  •  Spanish: adversidad‎ (fem.)
  •  Portuguese: adversidade‎ (fem.)
  •  Finnish: vastoinkäyminen‎
  •  French: malheur‎ (masc.), adversité‎ (fem.)
  •  Catalan: adversitat‎ (fem.)
  •  Slovak: bieda‎ (fem.)

How can the word adversity be used in a sentence?

The word adversity can be used in many different settings. Using words in a sentence is the best way to remember their definition. Try using this word of the day in a sentence today! Below are many examples of adversity. 

The farmers had a long run of adversity and a life of hardship during the drought. This little bit of adversity would not stop them from dreaming big, which showed their true colors. The farmers Matthew and April felt it made them a better man for living through the painful experiences of every crop of their whole grains of wheat dying out.

The first generation student at Princeton University, Oshie Reed, suffered adverse fortune when insults were lobbed at her lack of knowledge. She did not let this adversity ruin her spirit. No calamitous event or stroke of ill fortune from an opponent could cause her much suffering.

The adversary of the hero caused him abusive treatment, but no matter the adversity he suffered he would not give into betrayal. The wound oozed like the crucifixion, but the protagonist would not reveal the location of the dead Caesar’s body.

The author showed that the hero had suffered childhood adversities in the preface of the paperback manuscript. He knew that it allowed the audience to connect with the character and root for her in the pageant, like Shakespeare with the noble Caesar. Any contest, duel, or gauntlet she put her protagonist through needed a setup. They needed to care if she got the snub.

The tenants faced adversity caused by their landlord, who raised their rents like a stab in the back. This painful blow from the devil led them to live a servile life since all of them had lost their jobs.

The blow from the glove of his worthy adversary, a cop, caused swelling, but no matter how much adversity faced or how many whips slapped him, he would not let it keep him down. He had a loyalty to his crew, and abuses or adversity from a foe or offender would not stop that.

After the security investigations, the rows of men were released in the 19th century. The Swedish Gatlopp, Joseph Glanvill, Bernard Malamud, and others would never suffer an insult, excess water, or the slap of a right hand in a hostile manner again. This form of military punishment and adversity was first started in the 16th century when a troop entered traitors’ arms, but the best friends never thought it would enter the school system. They suffered a thirty years’ war against it.

A dog’s life can be filled with adversity, but the life of a dog living with Elmer Davis would be the greatest fun. No painful hardship or cruel treatment would be suffered there.

What is the origin of the word adversity?

According to Etymonline, the word adversity has been used since the early c13 as the Middle English aduersite and comes from the Old French adversite and Old French aversite, which is the Modern French aversité. These come from the Latin  adversitatem, the nominative adversitas which comes from the Latin adversus.

What are synonyms and antonyms for the word adversity?

There are many different words that have the same meaning as the word adversity. These are called synonyms. Synonyms are a great way to expand your vocabulary and avoid repeating yourself. This list of synonyms for the word adversity is provided by Power Thesaurus

  •  poverty
  •  tribulation
  •  ordeal
  •  disappointment
  •  dolor
  •  depression
  •  cross
  •  scourge
  •  mischance
  •  sorrow
  •  torment
  •  setback
  •  ill wind
  •  catastrophe
  •  discomfort
  •  unhappiness
  •  vicissitude
  •  contretemps
  •  blow
  •  afflictions
  •  rainy day
  •  casualty
  •  affliction
  •  infelicity
  •  hard time
  •  rigour
  •  distress
  •  mess
  •  wretchedness
  •  accident
  •  bad luck
  •  desolation
  •  calamity
  •  upset
  •  reverse
  •  misfortune
  •  sadness
  •  ill luck
  •  hassle
  •  unluckiness
  •  hard knocks
  •  anxiety
  •  trouble
  •  predicament
  •  reversal
  •  anguish
  •  rigor
  •  worry
  •  haplessness
  •  curse
  •  bane
  •  devastation
  •  extremity
  •  agony
  •  stroke of bad luck
  •  blight
  •  hard cheese
  •  adversities
  •  hardship
  •  hard luck
  •  crisis
  •  trial
  •  strenuousness
  •  arduousness
  •  heartbreak
  •  destitution
  •  heartache
  •  tough luck
  •  problem
  •  dilemma
  •  difficulty
  •  plight
  •  headache
  •  hardships
  •  cross to bear
  •  failure
  •  calamities
  •  trauma
  •  extremities
  •  burden
  •  misadventure
  •  pain
  •  misery
  •  emergency
  •  tragedy
  •  misfortunes
  •  difficulties
  •  grief
  •  woe
  •  mishap
  •  privation
  •  dire straits
  •  bad fortune
  •  suffering
  •  deprivation
  •  cataclysm
  •  disaster
  •  hard times
  •  unfortunateness
  •  ill fortune

There are also many different words that have the opposite meaning of the word adversity. These opposite words are called antonyms, which are another great way to expand your vocabulary. This list of antonyms is also provided by Power Thesaurus.

  •  felicity
  •  positivity
  •  explanation
  •  honeymoon
  •  enthusiasm
  •  calm
  •  subsistence
  •  impart
  •  charmed life
  •  ease of
  •  wealth
  •  happy ending
  •  big opportunity
  •  well being
  •  explication
  •  confidence
  •  conclusion
  •  salvation
  •  utility
  •  welfare
  •  use
  •  aid
  •  golden touch
  •  supply
  •  eagerness
  •  hope
  •  good energy
  •  health
  •  boon
  •  elucidation
  •  gaiety
  •  answer
  •  comfort
  •  godspeed
  •  fortuity
  •  good vibes
  •  joy
  •  suffice
  •  certainty
  •  happy life
  •  fluke
  •  good thoughts
  •  rub of the green
  •  greater good
  •  chance of a lifetime
  •  immunity
  •  luck
  •  golden ticket
  •  facilitate
  •  solution
  •  encouragement
  •  golden opportunity
  •  advantage
  •  good attitude
  •  blessing
  •  support
  •  happiness
  •  unresponsiveness
  •  benefit
  •  miracle
  •  pleasure
  •  felicitousness
  •  love story
  •  interpretation
  •  good vibrations
  •  honor
  •  great vibe
  •  finding
  •  prospect
  •  peace
  •  unluckily
  •  hopefulness
  •  inflict
  •  fate
  •  clarification
  •  good fortune
  •  prosperity
  •  privilege
  •  suck
  •  key
  •  virtue
  •  fortune
  •  gratification
  •  opportunity
  •  alacrity
  •  positive outcome
  •  big break
  •  wellbeing
  •  usefulness
  •  victory
  •  grow
  •  lucky break
  •  expectancy
  •  favor
  •  success
  •  windfall
  •  cure-all
  •  excellent opportunity
  •  highlight
  •  chance

Overall, the word adversity means hardship, whether in nonphysical abuse or as a literal expression. This word is Latin in origin.


  1. Adversity definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary 
  2. adversity: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  3. adversity | Origin and meaning of adversity | Online Etymology Dictionary
  4. Adversity synonyms – 1 270 Words and Phrases for Adversity | Power Thesaurus 
  5. Adversity – definition of adversity | The Free Dictionary  
  6. Adversity antonyms – 253 Opposites of Adversity | Power Thesaurus