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

It’s unclear what effect the bot apocalypse will have. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Is Twitter Good Now?," 13 July 2018 In hopes of finding last-gasp bargains, shoppers arrived Saturday morning and found what resembles a set for a movie about a suburban apocalypse. Kevin Riordan, Philly.com, "All sales final: N.J.'s 'worst' and 'saddest' shopping mall is going out of business," 9 July 2018 The religious leader predicted many an apocalypse in his time as the head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. David Montero, latimes.com, "Once zealously controlled by a religious sect, a small town tries to rehab its image — with beer," 5 July 2018 So, time to replace the boy who cried wolf fable with the host who scream apocalypse. Fox News, "Gutfeld: The state of civility," 1 July 2018 Such an increase in processing power could spell apocalypse for current encryption methods. Rachel Gutman, The Atlantic, "Could Quantum Computing Be the End of Free Will?," 30 June 2018 Whereas Fallout games have typically been set several decades after a Cold War-era nuclear apocalypse, Fallout 76 will drop players into the lore just a couple of decades after the bombs fell. Alex Fitzpatrick, Time, "7 Games Revealed at E3 2018 That We Can't Wait to Play," 14 June 2018 Near the center of the blast, the suffering and devastation most closely conform to the fictional apocalypse of our imaginations. Daily Intelligencer, "This Is What a Nuclear Bomb Looks Like," 12 June 2018 Once outside, of course, the post-apocalypse is about as apocalyptic as ever. Brad Chacos, PCWorld, "Everything Bethesda revealed at E3: Fallout 76, Doom Eternal, Elder Scrolls VI, Starfield, more," 10 June 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

20 Sep 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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