Date: 15th century
a. an event or conjunction of events that causes an unfortunate or distressing result ; bad luck <by misfortune he fell into bad company> <had the misfortune to break his leg> b. an unhappy situation <always ready to help people in misfortune> 2. a distressing or unfortunate incident or event <misfortunes never come singly> Synonyms: misfortune, mischance, adversity, mishap mean adverse fortune or an instance of this. misfortune may apply to either the incident or conjunction of events that is the cause of an unhappy change of fortune or to the ensuing state of distress <never lost hope even in the depths of misfortune>. mischance applies especially to a situation involving no more than slight inconvenience or minor annoyance <took the wrong road by mischance>. adversity applies to a state of grave or persistent misfortune <had never experienced great adversity>. mishap applies to an often trivial instance of bad luck <the usual mishaps of a family vacation>.
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.