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 Whether deliberately or not, the performance offered a philosophical inquiry into the question of what comes after a near-apocalypse. Sheila Regan, Star Tribune, 7 June 2021 It’s about starting anew, a theme that stands out in the face of an apocalypse, or even a pandemic. New York Times, 4 June 2021 And as the Good Book says, the family that battles on the frontline of the robot apocalypse together stays together. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 5 May 2021 Never met up, never bumped into each other before or after the zombie apocalypse. Erik Kain, Forbes, 16 May 2021 The character became a fan favorite as Glenn rose to the challenge of fighting a zombie apocalypse. Julie Hinds, Detroit Free Press, 24 Apr. 2021 One thing is true: The CDC does have a website for zombie preparedness, first conceived in May 2011 to raise awareness about an upcoming hurricane season, and teach emergency preparedness, using a fictitious zombie apocalypse. Miriam Fauzia, USA TODAY, 16 Apr. 2021 The Gaslamp Quarter resembled the set of a zombie apocalypse movie. Bryce Miller Columnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, 1 Apr. 2021 Even setting aside the dangers of a new, unknown group of enemies, taking a very, very pregnant woman on the road during a zombie apocalypse, instead of leaving her protected within the walls of Morganville, seems like a rookie mistake. Erik Kain, Forbes, 9 May 2021

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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Learn More About apocalypse

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

10 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Apocalypse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apocalypse. Accessed 23 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for apocalypse



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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