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

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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 Katherine Vetne was inspired by scrolling through online wedding registries to create warped versions of upscale household items—satires of materialism that evoke gracious living after the apocalypse. Peter Saenger, WSJ, "America Made by Hand," 15 Jan. 2021 The apocalypse that evangelicals have been predicting for generations seems for some to have finally begun. Matthew Avery Sutton, The New Republic, "The Capitol Riot Revealed the Darkest Nightmares of White Evangelical America," 14 Jan. 2021 As the countdown to global apocalypse approaches zero, their incredible trek culminates in a desperate and last-minute flight to a possible safe haven. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Greenland is as much a love story as an epic spectacle of impending disaster," 18 Dec. 2020 There’s very little otherworldly about this cinematic apocalypse. Katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times, "Review: ‘Greenland’ delivers a Giant Comet 2020, extinction-level event," 16 Dec. 2020 Messages about a coming apocalypse that could be decoded through architectural measurements? Livia Gershon, Smithsonian Magazine, "Isaac Newton Thought the Great Pyramid Held the Key to the Apocalypse," 8 Dec. 2020 Dean and Sammy were front line workers of the apocalypse. Rick Kogan, chicagotribune.com, "Who and what we lost in 2020: From notable artists to Chicago experiences, they’re gone or changed but not forgotten," 11 Dec. 2020 Pandemics and the apocalypse have never been more top of mind, and our fears of them seem more rational than ever. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, "'The Stand' review: CBS All Access makes a somewhat entertaining mess out of Stephen King's epic," 18 Dec. 2020 With storefronts largely empty of customers for the last 10 months, some fear a commercial real estate apocalypse is upon us. Katherine Ellen Foley, Quartz, "As Covid-19 pummels commercial real estate, one specialized sector booms," 16 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for apocalypse

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for apocalypse

Last Updated

6 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Apocalypse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apocalypse. Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

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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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