apoc·​a·​lypse | \ ə-ˈpä-kə-ˌlips How to pronounce apocalypse (audio) \
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
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

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 At the same time, he and his wife, both of whom had been raised in strict religious households, adopted a millennial form of Christianity, one that saw the world around them as fundamentally corrupt and full of signs of the coming apocalypse. New York Times, 13 May 2022 The draft opinion itself is a big deal; its leakage is overblown as some sort of transparency apocalypse for the Supreme Court. Washington Post, 4 May 2022 The movie stars Divergent star Theo James and Vampire Diaries’ Kat Graham as two people among many attempting to escape an unexplained apocalypse. Paul Tassi, Forbes, 26 Apr. 2022 Identifying new species is a bright spot as parts of the world head for an insect apocalypse due to the climate crisis. Ashley Strickland, CNN, 23 Apr. 2022 Despite a potential apocalypse being in the works, there’s surprisingly little tension to any of Marc and Steven’s globe-trotting race to stop Harrow. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 29 Mar. 2022 Ultimately, then, the story is not about the apocalypse but assimilation and the transition to modernity. Los Angeles Times, 3 Feb. 2022 This was the season where Nancy averted a supernatural almost-apocalypse, which is a huge undertaking and a huge thing. Sydney Bucksbaum, EW.com, 29 Jan. 2022 The science shows us that fears of a climate apocalypse are unfounded. Bjorn Lomborg, National Review, 3 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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.

Learn More About apocalypse

Time Traveler for apocalypse

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near apocalypse




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for apocalypse

Last Updated

17 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Apocalypse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apocalypse. Accessed 17 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on apocalypse

Nglish: Translation of apocalypse for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of apocalypse for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Eponyms: Words Named After People

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!