Misfortune, mischance, adversity, mishap are comparable when they denote bad luck or adverse fortune or an instance of this.
Misfortune is both the most common and the most general term; it is applicable equally to the incident or conjunction of events that is the cause of an unhappy change of fortune or the ensuing state of distress and it may denote a particular unfortunate incident.
Mischance rarely applies to a state of distress but is otherwise very close to misfortune from which it differs chiefly in greater objectivity. While sometimes used to imply grave affliction or even death it is especially appropriate when the situation involves no more than slight inconvenience or minor annoyance.
Adversity, on the other hand, denotes the state or the instance but not the cause; it is distinctly the strongest of these words and in its typical use implies a state of grave and persistent misfortune. In application to the instance adversity is normally used in the plural.
Mishap, (see also ACCIDENT ) like mischance, commonly implies triviality.