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

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

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What does the word tribulations mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language and others like American Heritage and Collins English Dictionary, the word tribulations is the plural form of the noun tribulation. The word tribulation means some distress or suffering that is a result of oppression or persecution. You might hear this word in the phrase trials and tribulations. The pronunciation of tribulation is ˌtri-byə-ˈlā-shən. You may see this term in several places in the Bible, including Matthew, the gospel of Luke and John, Isaiah, Corinthians, Deuteronomy, Thessalonians, Philippians, stories from Jerusalem and Israel in the Old Testament and New Testament, prayers about the Lord Jesus Christ and the second coming, or in other gospel talks by a prophet or church leader talking about the tribulations of sins and judgment.

There are many different languages that also use words that mean tribulation. You may notice that some of these words also look similar to the word tribulation. These are called cognates, which are often formed when two words have the same root or language of origin. Cognates are words that look and sound similar, and also mean something similar across languages. Learning translations is very useful if you are going to be traveling abroad or communicating with someone who does not speak English. This list of translations of tribulations is provided by Word Sense.

  •  Italian: tribolazione‎ (fem.)
  •  Swedish: bedrövelse‎ (common), vedermöda‎ (common)
  •  Scottish Gaelic: trioblaid‎ (fem.)
  •  German: Trübsal‎ (fem.)
  •  Georgian: ჭირი‎
  •  Dutch: beproeving‎ (fem.)
  •  Maori: poautinitini‎, whakapāwera‎
  •  Portuguese: tribulação‎ (fem.)
  •  Russian: бе́дствие‎ (neut.), беда́‎ (fem.), несча́стье‎ (neut.), го́ре‎ (neut.)
  •  Norwegian: motgang‎ (masc.), prøvelse‎ (masc.), trengsel‎ (masc.)
  •  French: tribulation‎ (fem.)
  •  Turkish: çile‎, dert‎, musibet‎, sıkıntı‎
  •  Galician: tribulación‎ (fem.)
  •  Arabic: مِحْنَة‎ (fem.)

What is the origin of the word tribulations?

According to Etymonline, the word tribulation has been used since 1200 to refer to a state of suffering or distress as the Middle English tribulacioun. This comes from the Old French tribulacion, a 12th century word from the Church Latin tribulationem/Church Latin trībulātiō, the nominative tribulatio/trībulātus, which is the noun taken from the past participle trībulātiō or past participle of trībulāre/Latin trībulāre meaning to oppress or afflict. This comes from the Latin tribulare meaning to press, or from tribulum meaning threshing board from the stem of terere meaning to rub and the name-forming suffix of instrument bulum. This is of Proto-Indo-European roots.

How can the word tribulations be used in a sentence?

The word tribulations can be used in many different sentences in the English language.  Using words in a sentence is a great way to memorize their definitions. Try using this word of the day in a sentence today. You can also try making flashcards or quizzes to memorize the definition of the word tribulations. Below are numerous examples of tribulations. 

The visitation of the plague was one of many tribulations that accompanied worldwide persecution. There was a warning of this great affiliation and catastrophic event, but no one noticed until it was too late.

The desolation and tribulations were attributed to the abomination on earth foretold by the Greek prophecy that the priest learned of in the temple.

Daniel went through many a great trial and tribulation to ask his crush to the prom. After the dance, Jeremiah and Daniel became inseparable companions in a short period of time.

On his first day on the job, it seemed like every trial and tribulation was going to get in his way. He spilled coffee all over himself, got a flat tire and into 

What are synonyms and antonyms for the word tribulations?

There are many different possible words that a person can use in place of the word tribulation. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same definition as another given word or phrase. Learning synonyms is a great way to expand your vocabulary and avoid repeating the same word over and over again. This list of synonyms for tribulation is provided by Thesaurus.

  •  adversity
  •  blow
  •  reverse
  •  rainy day
  •  hard knock
  •  drag
  •  sorrow
  •  vexation
  •  hard time
  •  woe
  •  grief
  •  bad luck
  •  bummer
  •  misery
  •  wretchedness
  •  suffering
  •  ordeal
  •  worry
  •  affliction
  •  wronging
  •  albatross
  •  oppression
  •  downer
  •  burden
  •  pain
  •  unhappiness
  •  headache
  •  trial
  •  difficulty
  •  cross to bear
  •  curse
  •  trouble
  •  persecution
  •  crucible
  •  visitation
  •  misfortune
  •  heartache
  •  care
  •  distress
  •  double whammy

There are also many different words that mean the opposite of the word tribulations. These opposite words are called antonyms. Antonyms are also a quick and easy way to expand your English language vocabulary. This list of antonyms are also provided by Thesaurus

  •  restfulness
  •  load off one’s mind
  •  solace
  •  mollification
  •  help
  •  relief
  •  quick fix
  •  palliative
  •  comforting
  •  refreshment
  •  assuagement
  •  hand
  •  abatement
  •  amelioration
  •  mitigation
  •  alleviation
  •  cure
  •  contentment
  •  remedy
  •  lightening
  •  consolation
  •  aid
  •  reprieve
  •  balm
  •  appeasement
  •  allayment
  •  easement
  •  break
  •  happiness
  •  softening
  •  lift
  •  assistance
  •  cheer
  •  succor
  •  fix
  •  maintenance
  •  support
  •  ease
  •  relaxation
  •  letup
  •  diversion
  •  breather
  •  respite
  •  deliverance
  •  remission
  •  rest
  •  sustenance
  •  satisfaction
  •  release
  •  comfort
  •  extrication

Overall, the word tribulations refers to some distress or suffering. The word tribulations is often used in conjunction with the word trials to form the idiomatic phrase trials and tribulations. This word utilizes the suffix tion and comes from the Middle English trībulātiōn and Latin trībulum. Try using this word of the day in a sentence today or creating flashcards and quizzes to memorize its definition. This is a useful word to describe a specific type of suffering. 


  1. tribulation | Origin and meaning of tribulation | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  2. TRIBULATION Synonyms: 54 Synonyms & Antonyms for TRIBULATION | Thesaurus 
  3. RELIEF Synonyms: 58 Synonyms & Antonyms for RELIEF | Thesaurus 
  4. Tribulation | Meaning, Origin, Translations | Word SenseTribulation | Definition of Tribulation | Merriam-Webster