apoc·​a·​lypse ə-ˈpä-kə-ˌlips How to pronounce apocalypse (audio)
plural apocalypses
: 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
capitalized : revelation sense 3
: something viewed as a prophetic revelation
: a large, disastrous fire : inferno
Most foresters agree that small, "prescribed" burns, carefully controlled, are essential to prevent the larger apocalypse.Lance Morrow
: 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 An alien invasion movie told in the style of an arthouse film, Arrival’s deeper story is far more profound than detailing the coming apocalypse. Randall Colburn, EW.com, 26 Jan. 2024 In beer terms, this neighborhood is experiencing everything from a renaissance to an apocalypse. Peter Rowe, San Diego Union-Tribune, 19 Jan. 2024 The year was 2012 and the impending Mayan apocalypse was all the rage, so naturally it was written into Glee. Vulture, 19 Dec. 2023 The Java grinder is an extension of that—a portable coffee grinder rugged enough to survive the zombie apocalypse or a bumpy ride to your favorite campsite. Scott Gilbertson, WIRED, 27 Nov. 2023 Which is not optimal because the traffic from LA to Vegas is Zombie apocalypse horrific. Sherry Kuehl, Kansas City Star, 7 Feb. 2024 In 2015, for example, Nationwide ran a commercial during Super Bowl XLIX that told a story from the viewpoint of a child who was already dead, while the portable-power company Mophie offered a spot showing God letting the Earth tilt into apocalypse because his smartphone battery was dead. Brian Steinberg, Variety, 5 Feb. 2024 Catherine O’Hara is lacing up her apocalypse boots! Kelly Wynne, Peoplemag, 2 Feb. 2024 Musk’s goal for Neuralink is to prevent a future AI apocalypse by making our brains bionic. Parmy Olson, Twin Cities, 1 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'apocalypse.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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.

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near apocalypse

Cite this Entry

“Apocalypse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apocalypse. Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
: something thought of as a prophetic revelation
: the place or time of the final battle between good and evil
: a decisive battle
: a great disaster


2 of 2 noun
: one of the Jewish and Christian writings of 200 B.C. to A.D. 150 by an author writing under a pseudonym that is marked by 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 heavenly kingdom see bible

More from Merriam-Webster on apocalypse

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