apoc·​a·​lypse | \ə-ˈpä-kə-ˌlips \
plural apocalypses

Definition of apocalypse 

1a : one of the Jewish and Christian writings of 200 b.c. to a.d. 150 marked by pseudonymity, symbolic imagery, and the expectation of an imminent cosmic cataclysm in which God destroys the ruling powers of evil and raises the righteous to life in a messianic kingdom

b capitalized : revelation sense 3

2a : something viewed as a prophetic revelation

b : armageddon

3a : a large, disastrous fire : inferno Most foresters agree that small, "prescribed" burns, carefully controlled, are essential to prevent the larger apocalypse.— Lance Morrow

b : a great disaster an environmental apocalypse

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Examples of apocalypse in a Sentence

His book tells of an environmental apocalypse. the fear that the next global pandemic could be an apocalypse of biblical proportions

Recent Examples on the Web

But Morgan doesn't leave without one last moment with Rick, his oldest friend in the apocalypse. Josh Wigler, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Walking Dead' Team Previews Season 9 Evolution: It Takes a "Quantum Leap Forward"," 16 Apr. 2018 This far left rhetoric comes out every single time, but the apocalypse never comes. Fox News, "The politics of filling a Supreme Court vacancy," 10 July 2018 This far-left rhetoric comes out every single time, but the apocalypse never comes. CBS News, "Judge Brett Kavanaugh named Trump's second Supreme Court justice - live updates," 9 July 2018 The film's eventful enough to support multiple metaphorical readings, but keeps coming back to the poignant idea that moms and dads everywhere — apocalypse or not — just want to know their children will be OK after they're gone. Noel Murray, latimes.com, "Everyman Martin Freeman braves zombies to save his daughter in Australian thriller 'Cargo'," 16 May 2018 Image Never underestimate the ability of the French to find deep meaning in the zombie apocalypse. Jason Zinoman, New York Times, "Review: In ‘The Night Eats the World,’ Zombie Apocalypse Now, Again," 12 July 2018 While speculative fiction is full of apocalypses, Roanhorse has also pointed out that the end of the world is not just an abstract concept. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "Trail of Lightning is a breathtaking Native American urban fantasy adventure," 26 June 2018 That puts us in October of 2019, which is too early for another election-themed story but could be something about Halloween, or possibly an apocalypse. Kara Nesvig, Teen Vogue, ""American Horror Story" Season 8 Will Take Place 18 Months in the Future," 9 Apr. 2018 Featuring a lot of smart observations by Betaworks founder John Borthwick, the book could help us fight off Ovadya’s information apocalypse. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "Can Machines Save Us From the the Machines?," 17 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'apocalypse.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of apocalypse

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for apocalypse

Middle English Apocalipse "Revelation (the New Testament book)," borrowed from Anglo-French, borrowed from Late Latin apocalypsis "revelation, the Book of Revelation," borrowed from Greek apokálypsis "uncovering, disclosure, revelation," from apokalyp-, stem of apokalýptein "to uncover, disclose, reveal" (from apo- apo- + kalýptein "to cover, protect, conceal," of uncertain origin) + -sis -sis

Note: Greek kalýptein is associated in older handbooks with Indo-European *ḱel- "conceal" (see conceal), though neither the vocalism nor the supposed extension *-up- are easily explicable.

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Last Updated

15 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for apocalypse

The first known use of apocalypse was before the 12th century

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English Language Learners Definition of apocalypse

: a great disaster : a sudden and very bad event that causes much fear, loss, or destruction

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to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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