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early 13c., from Old French tribulacion (12c.), from Late Latin tribulationem (nominative tribulatio) "distress, trouble, affliction" (c.200), from tribulatus, past participle of tribulare "to oppress, afflict," a figurative use by Christian writers of Latin tribulare "to press," also possibly "to thresh out grain," from tribulum "threshing sledge," from stem of terere "to rub" (see throw (v.)) + -bulum, suffix forming names of tools.
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.