Trials and Tribulations: Definition, Meaning and Origin

Last Updated on
May 31, 2023

The phrase "trials and tribulations" refers to troubles, problems, difficulties, or annoyances in one's life. It often describes a difficult journey or experience that requires courage and resilience.

In short:

  • "Trials and tribulations" signifies enduring through difficult circumstances or hardships.

What Does "Trials and Tribulations" Mean?

The phrase refers to challenging life events and distressing situations that one has to endure. It suggests hardships that demand perseverance and determination to overcome.

Some examples of trials and tribulations include:

  • Health issues or medical emergencies
  • Financial troubles or loss of a job
  • Relationship struggles or breakups
  • Death or loss of a loved one
  • Failures or setbacks in one's career or education

Where Does "Trials and Tribulations" Come From?

The phrase "trials and tribulations" originates from the Bible, specifically the New Testament, where "trial" signifies the testing of faith and "tribulation" refers to suffering or distress. Over time, this idiom has been adopted into everyday English language usage to describe periods of hardship or struggle.

Historical Example

"All that our Saviour promiseth his disciples, when he tells them of the great trials and tribulations they were to undergo, is, 'I will send you the Spirit, the Comforter; he shall give you peace in me, when in the world you shall have trouble.'"

- The Works of John Owen, 1862

10 Examples of "Trials and Tribulations" in Sentences

Here are some examples of using the idiom in sentences:

  • When faced with trials and tribulations, remember that you are destined for greatness, and each challenge is an opportunity to prove your strength.
  • I know you'll find your way anytime soon, despite the trials and tribulations you're facing.
  • John's trials and tribulations have made him stronger and more resilient.
  • When things went south, the company faced numerous trials and tribulations.
  • Believe in yourself and know that you can overcome any trials and tribulations that come your way.
  • On cloud nine, Maria had finally overcome her trials and tribulations.
  • It's during our trials and tribulations that we discover our true selves.
  • Overcoming trials and tribulations allows one to move forward in life.
  • They stuck together through their trials and tribulations and came out stronger.
  • Seize the day, and don't let the trials and tribulations of life hold you back.

Examples of "Trials and Tribulations" in Pop Culture

The phrase "trials and tribulations" is quite prevalent in various forms of media, emphasizing perseverance in the face of adversity.

Let's look at some examples:

  • "Win Some Lose Some: The Trials and Tribulations" is an autobiographical book by Mark N. Stageberg that chronicles his eventful legal career as a trial lawyer, highlighting the diverse and challenging experiences he encountered along the way.
  • "Yeah, well, I didn't quit hard enough. Look, I'm not comfortable with the pace at which we deal with new trials and tribulations," is a line from the television series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013–2020).

Other/Different Ways to Say "Trials and Tribulations"

There are several alternative expressions that convey a similar meaning to "trials and tribulations."

Some of these include:

  • Struggles and hardships
  • Obstacles and difficulties
  • Challenges and setbacks
  • Ordeals and adversities
  • Problems and hurdles

You can use these alternative phrases interchangeably depending on the context and the hardship or adversity described.

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Trials and Tribulations":

  • What does "trials and tribulations" mean?

"Trials and tribulations" refers to difficulties and struggles that a person or group must overcome. It often emphasizes the resilience or determination required to endure these hardships.

  • How can I use "trials and tribulations" in a sentence?

You can use "trials and tribulations" to describe a period or event of significant hardship or struggle. For example, "Despite the trials and tribulations of starting a new business, John never gave up.

  • Where does the idiom "trials and tribulations" come from?

The phrase originates from the New testament of the Bible, where it signifies enduring hardship as a test of faith.

  • Can the phrase refer to minor inconveniences?

Usually not. "Trials and tribulations" typically refers to significant difficulties or hardships, not minor inconveniences.

  • Is it appropriate in both formal and informal contexts?

Yes, it can be used in both formal and informal contexts.

  • Does "trials and tribulations" always imply a negative situation?

While it refers to struggles or difficulties, the phrase often carries a connotation of resilience and determination, implying the potential for positive outcomes.

  • Is it okay to use it in a humorous way?

While possible, it's uncommon as it usually denotes significant hardships.

  • Is the phrase used in literature?

Yes, it's often used in literature to convey characters' struggles.

  • What's the difference between "trials and tribulations" and "ups and downs"?

"Trials and tribulations" refers to significant hardships, while "ups and downs" may refer to the ordinary fluctuations or variations in life.

  • Can one use the phrase in a professional context?

Yes, "trials and tribulations" can be used in professional contexts to refer to challenges or difficulties encountered in a project or task.

Final Thoughts About "Trials and Tribulations"

The phrase "trials and tribulations" signifies life's difficulties, hardships, and struggles that test one's character and endurance. Though distressing, these challenges often shape wisdom, strength, and maturity in those who persevere through them.

Here's a quick recap:

  • It symbolizes enduring significant struggles or difficulties.
  • Its origin is traced back to the New Testament of the Bible.
  • It is appropriate in various contexts and situations, emphasizing its versatility and adaptability.

Though implying hardship, the "trials and tribulations" also signify growth and transformation through overcoming struggles. The phrase endures because difficulties are an inextricable part of human existence.

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