Student Dictionary

One entry found for tragedy.
Main Entry: trag·e·dy
Pronunciation: primarystresstraj-schwad-emacron
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural -dies
Etymology: Middle English tragedie "tragedy as a drama," from early French tragedie (same meaning), from Latin tragoedia (same meaning), from Greek tragomacridia "a drama about the misfortunes of heroes," literally "goat song," from tragos "goat" and aeidein "to sing"
1 : a serious drama with a sorrowful or disastrous conclusion
2 : a disastrous event
Word History Tragedy as a form of drama began in ancient Greece. It developed from the public performances of songs and dances at religious festivals. These festivals were held in honor of Dionysus, the god of wine and fertility. The Greeks called these performances tragomacridia, which meant literally "goat song." The word came from tragos, meaning "goat" and aeidein, meaning "to sing." These performances were at first given by a chorus. Later, however, it became popular to have one member of the chorus stand apart from the others and give a spoken introduction to or interpretation of the story. This speaker soon took over a larger and larger role in the performances. In time, this person was joined by more speakers until the dramas came to be like our modern plays with many parts acted out. It is not certain why these performances were named with a word for "goat." One explanation is that a goat was given as a prize to the person presenting the best drama. Another is that the goat was sacred to the god Dionysus and was sacrificed to him at these festivals. The early tragedies were stories of the misfortunes of heroes of legend or history, and that idea of misfortune carries on today in the common meaning of our word tragedy.

Pronunciation Symbols