grievous trouble; severe trial or suffering.
an instance of this; an affliction, trouble, etc.

1175–1225; Middle English < Latin trībulātiōn- (stem of trībulātiō) distress, trouble, equivalent to trībulāt(us) (past participle of trībulāre to press, squeeze, derivative of trībulum threshing sledge, equivalent to trī-, variant stem of terere to rub, crush + -bulum noun suffix of instrument) + -iōn- -ion

1. affliction, hardship, distress, adversity. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
tribulation (ˌtrɪbjʊˈleɪʃən)
1.  a cause of distress
2.  a state of suffering or distress
[C13: from Old French, from Church Latin trībulātiō, from Latin trībulāre to afflict, from trībulum a threshing board, from terere to rub]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

early 13c., from O.Fr. tribulacion (12c.), from L.L. tribulationem (nom. tribulatio) "distress, trouble, affliction" (c.200), from tribulatus, pp. of tribulare "to oppress, afflict," a figurative use by Christian writers of L. tribulare "to press," also possibly "to thresh out grain," from tribulum
"threshing sledge," from stem of terere "to rub" (see throw) + -bulum, suffix forming names of tools.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Bible Dictionary

Tribulation definition

trouble or affiction of any kind (Deut. 4:30; Matt. 13:21; 2 Cor. 7:4). In Rom. 2:9 "tribulation and anguish" are the penal sufferings that shall overtake the wicked. In Matt. 24:21, 29, the word denotes the calamities that were to attend the destruction of Jerusalem.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Example sentences
Divine inspiration, alas, has given way to legal tribulation.
Lizzie had to grapple with the stern tribulation of a decision to make, a
  problem to solve.
These have been the days of her humiliation and tribulation.
There is no saint whose virtue is not exercised by tribulation.
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