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n. pl. ad·ver·si·ties
1. A state of hardship or affliction; misfortune.
2. A calamitous event.


n, pl -ties
1. distress; affliction; hardship
2. an unfortunate event or incident


(ædˈvɜr sɪ ti)

n., pl. -ties for 2.
1. adverse fortune or fate; misfortune; calamity: in times of adversity.
2. an adverse event or circumstance: to cope with life's many adversities.
[1200–50; (< Anglo-French) < Latin]
syn: See misfortune.



the black ox has trod on [someone’s] foot Said of a person who has been the victim of misfortune or adversity. This proverb, in use since 1546, is rarely heard today.

blood, sweat and tears See EXERTION.

cross to bear See BURDEN.

crown of thorns Any excruciatingly painful hardship, tribulation, trial, suffering, etc.; a grievous and enduring wound. This expression refers to the crown which soldiers mockingly placed on Jesus’ head before his crucifixion.

And they platted a crown of thorns and put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand; and they kneeled down before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! (Matthew 27:29)

get one’s lumps To be harshly treated or abused; to be punished, chastised, or criticized; to be physically beaten or harassed. In this expression a lump is literally a swelling on the body caused by physical violence.

Their greatest fun is to see a cop getting his lumps. (H. Lee in Pageant, April, 1951)

This 20th-century American slang expression is frequently used to describe nonphysical abuse and punishment or unpleasant, painful experiences.

Now I take my lumps, he thought. Maybe for not satisfying Mary. (Bernard Malamud, Tenants, 1971)

lead a dog’s life To live a miserable, servile life; to lead a wretched, harassed existence. This expression, which dates from the 16th century, apparently refers to the abuses heaped on the less fortunate of man’s best friends.

She … domineers like the devil: O Lord, I lead the life of a dog. (Samuel Foote, The Mayor of Garret, 1764)

the most unkindest cut of all The cruelest of cruel treatment; the last and most painful of a series of hurts; used especially in reference to betrayal by a friend. The cut of the original expression referred to one of the rents in Julius Caesar’s mantle, specifically that made by his dearest friend Brutus. The line is from Marc Antony’s famous oration over the dead Caesar’s body.

This was the most unkindest cut of all,
For when the noble Caesar saw him stab,
Ingratitude, more strong than traitors’ arms,
Quite vanquished him. (Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, III,ii)

Today the phrase is most often found in contexts where cut means ‘slight, snub, insult,’ though the idea that the hurt involves a friend’s rejection is usually retained. Other uses play on other meanings of cut, such as deletions from a manuscript or bowdlerization of a text.

run the gauntlet To be subjected to attack from all sides; to be made to endure abusive treatment or severe criticism. Running the gauntlet was a form of military punishment in which the offender was compelled to run between two rows of men armed with whips or scourges, each of whom struck him a painful blow. The gauntlet (or gantlet) of the expression bears no relationship to gauntlet ‘mailed glove’ but is a corruption of gantlope, from the Swedish gatlopp ‘a running lane.’ The literal expression came into English during the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) and the phrase was used figuratively shortly thereafter.

To print, is to run the gantlet, and to expose ones self to the tongues strapado. (Joseph Glanvill, “Preface” The Vanity of Dogmatizing, 1661)

slings and arrows See CRITICISM.

through the mill Through much suffering, through many hardships and difficulties, through an ordeal or trial. The allusion is to the way a mill grinds whole grains of wheat into fine flour.

His hardships were never excessive; they did not affect his health or touch his spirits; probably he is in every way a better man for having … “gone through the mill.”

(G. Gissing, The Private Papers of H. Ryecroft, 1903)

Use of the expression dates from the 19th century.

through the wringer Through an emotionally or physically exhausting experience.

Workers, who have already undergone two loyalty or security investigations … must go through the wringer a third time. (Elmer Davis, as quoted in Webster’s Third)

A wringer is an apparatus for squeezing out excess water or liquid, as from clothes after washing.

ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.adversity - a state of misfortune or afflictionadversity - a state of misfortune or affliction; "debt-ridden farmers struggling with adversity"; "a life of hardship"
ill-being - lack of prosperity or happiness or health
bad luck, ill luck, tough luck, misfortune - an unfortunate state resulting from unfavorable outcomes
disaster, catastrophe - a state of extreme (usually irremediable) ruin and misfortune; "lack of funds has resulted in a catastrophe for our school system"; "his policies were a disaster"
extremity - an extreme condition or state (especially of adversity or disease)
distress - a state of adversity (danger or affliction or need); "a ship in distress"; "she was the classic maiden in distress"
affliction - a state of great suffering and distress due to adversity
victimization - adversity resulting from being made a victim; "his victimization infuriated him"
low-water mark, nadir - an extreme state of adversity; the lowest point of anything
2.adversity - a stroke of ill fortuneadversity - a stroke of ill fortune; a calamitous event; "a period marked by adversities"
misfortune, bad luck - unnecessary and unforeseen trouble resulting from an unfortunate event



شِدَّه، مِحْنَه، ضَرَّاء
mótlæti, andstreymi


[ədˈvɜːsɪtɪ] Ninfortunio m, desgracia f
in times of adversityen tiempos difíciles
he knew adversity in his youthde joven conoció la miseria
companion in adversitycompañero m de desgracias


[ədˈvɜːrsɪti] nadversité f
in adversity → dans l'adversité
in the face of adversity → face à l'adversité


no plNot f; a time of adversityeine Zeit der Not; in adversityim Unglück, in der Not
(= misfortune)Widrigkeit f (geh); the adversities of wardie Härten des Krieges


[ədˈvɜːsɪtɪ] navversità f inv


(ˈӕdvəːs) adjective
unfavourable. adverse criticism.
ˈadversely adverb
adˈversity noun
misfortune or hardship.
References in classic literature ?
Certainly if miracles be the command over nature, they appear most in adversity.
Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament; adversity is the blessing of the New; which carrieth the greater benediction, and the clearer revelation of God's favor.
Those who so bind themselves, and are not rapacious, ought to be honoured and loved; those who do not bind themselves may be dealt with in two ways; they may fail to do this through pusillanimity and a natural want of courage, in which case you ought to make use of them, especially of those who are of good counsel; and thus, whilst in prosperity you honour them, in adversity you do not have to fear them.
Because men, when they receive good from him of whom they were expecting evil, are bound more closely to their benefactor; thus the people quickly become more devoted to him than if he had been raised to the principality by their favours; and the prince can win their affections in many ways, but as these vary according to the circumstances one cannot give fixed rules, so I omit them; but, I repeat, it is necessary for a prince to have the people friendly, otherwise he has no security in adversity.
Nor, again, that of a bad man passing from adversity to prosperity: for nothing can be more alien to the spirit of Tragedy; it possesses no single tragic quality; it neither satisfies the moral sense nor calls forth pity or fear.
The company he belonged to left town in the adversity habitual with them.
We must make friends in prosperity if we would have their help in adversity.
And they may unfold a tale of narrow escape, of steady ill-luck, of high winds and heavy weather, of ice, of interminable calms or endless head-gales; a tale of difficulties overcome, of adversity defied by a small knot of men upon the great loneliness of the sea; a tale of resource, of courage - of helplessness, perhaps.
has learnt Perseverance in the School of Adversity.
There was one man there who had fallen on adversity, and to him she had given board and lodging for several months.
Brownlow went on, from day to day, filling the mind of his adopted child with stores of knowledge, and becoming attached to him, more and more, as his nature developed itself, and showed the thriving seeds of all he wished him to become--how he traced in him new traits of his early friend, that awakened in his own bosom old remembrances, melancholy and yet sweet and soothing--how the two orphans, tried by adversity, remembered its lessons in mercy to others, and mutual love, and fervent thanks to Him who had protected and preserved them--these are all matters which need not to be told.
Hannah was so satisfied with her own unexpectedly radiant prospects that she hardly realized her mother's anxieties; for there are natures which flourish, in adversity, and deteriorate when exposed to sudden prosperity.