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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 ?
Wealth is certainly a most desirable thing, but poverty has its sunny side, and one of the sweet uses of adversity is the genuine satisfaction which comes from hearty work of head or hand, and to the inspiration of necessity, we owe half the wise, beautiful, and useful blessings of the world.
If, heretofore, l had been none of the warmest of partisans I began now, at this season of peril and adversity, to be pretty acutely sensible with which party my predilections lay; nor was it without something like regret and shame that, according to a reasonable calculation of chances, I saw my own prospect of retaining office to be better than those of my democratic brethren.
Her soul had been baked hard in the fire of adversity, and there was no altering it now; life to her was the hunt for daily bread, and ideas existed for her only as they bore upon that.
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.
She had stated therein that she had fallen into adversity, and was leaving Dover for good, but had quite made up her mind to it, and was so well that nobody need be uncomfortable about her.
Now the princes looked this way and that, and were silent, not knowing what to say, for these princes hated each other, though adversity and fear had brought them to one bed.
I trust, with the assistance of the good hermit's frock, together with the priesthood, sanctity, and learning which are stitched into the cowl of it, I shall be found qualified to administer both worldly and ghostly comfort to our worthy master Cedric, and his companions in adversity.
Even though he came late in the succession of inventors, Bell had to run the gantlet of scoffing and adversity.
Fortune always leaves a door open in adversity in order to bring relief to it," said Don Quixote; "I say so because this little beast may now supply the want of Rocinante, carrying me hence to some castle where I may be cured of my wounds.
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.
When the wind of adversity began to blow upon the housekeeping of the Rue des Fossoyeurs--that is to say, when the forty pistoles of King Louis XIII were consumed or nearly so--he commenced complaints which Athos thought nauseous, Porthos indecent, and Aramis ridiculous.
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.