ca·​lam·​i·​ty | \ kə-ˈla-mə-tē How to pronounce calamity (audio) \
plural calamities

Definition of calamity

1 : a disastrous event marked by great loss and lasting distress and suffering calamities of nature an economic calamity
2 : a state of deep distress or misery caused by major misfortune or loss

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Examples of calamity in a Sentence

Twenty two years passed. Twenty-two years of excellent health and the boundless self-assurance that flows from being fit—twenty-two years spared the adversary that is illness and the calamity that waits in the wings. — Phillip Roth, Everyman, 2006 A resentment born of the suspicion that all along the media were up to their usual tricks, hyping a national calamity to the max in order to make us buy more copies and tune into TV specials … — Christopher Buckley, Time, 29 Nov. 1999 In the wake of this year's unending calamities, there has been renewed discussion of the need for an international rapid deployment force that can kick down doors to help victims of disasters. — Kathleen Hunt, New York Times Magazine, 28 July 1991 floods, earthquakes, and other calamities He predicted calamity for the economy.
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Recent Examples on the Web No matter how mundane a calamity may appear when dispassionately analyzed by future historians, those who are there at or before the start can and should think about how to survive. Marc Gerstein, Forbes, "I Don’t Know If The Market Will Crash, But If It Does, You Need Not Follow It Down," 17 Mar. 2021 If rates stay that low, the U.S could could forestall a calamity for a few years. Shawn Tully, Fortune, "A looming ‘iceberg’: How a spike in interest rates makes America’s soaring debt a lot more dangerous," 5 Mar. 2021 In a 2015 report commissioned by the city and written with input from the water utility, disaster consulting firm H2O Partners said the generators could prove useful during a calamity caused by a terrorist attack, tornado or winter freeze. Joshua Fechter, San Antonio Express-News, "San Antonio Water System decided not to take some advice 5 years ago: Buy emergency pump generators," 2 Mar. 2021 This transition has not been without occasional calamity. Rene Hendrikse, Forbes, "What The Zoom Cat Filter Can Teach Us About Banking Security," 12 Mar. 2021 That wasn't the case early on in the pandemic, when Wuhan, Italy and Britain were pretty well hard hit before New York became ground zero in America's COVID calamity. John Rash, Star Tribune, "Unity elusive during a long pandemic year," 12 Mar. 2021 Serenity and calamity came and went with each sunrise. Dallas News, "A year without: How Texas survived the challenges brought by the coronavirus pandemic," 10 Mar. 2021 But the hubris of great powers has often instigated calamity. Washington Post, "How the U.S. and China could go to war," 9 Mar. 2021 Bexar County’s death toll from COVID-19 crossed 2,500 Tuesday as hospitalizations from the virus decline and local officials try to get a grip on the status of the virus following last week’s winter calamity and ensuing power outages. San Antonio Express-News, "Express Briefing: Some freeze-damaged plants in your yard can be saved," 24 Feb. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'calamity.' 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 calamity

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for calamity

Middle English calamytey, from Latin calamitat-, calamitas; perhaps akin to Latin clades destruction

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Time Traveler for calamity

Time Traveler

The first known use of calamity was in the 15th century

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Statistics for calamity

Last Updated

1 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Calamity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for calamity



English Language Learners Definition of calamity

formal : an event that causes great harm and suffering


ca·​lam·​i·​ty | \ kə-ˈla-mə-tē How to pronounce calamity (audio) \
plural calamities

Kids Definition of calamity

1 : great distress or misfortune … he felt oppressed by the vague sense of impending calamity.— Jack London, The Call of the Wild
2 : an event that causes great harm and suffering : disaster

Other Words from calamity

calamitous \ -​təs \ adjective

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Comments on calamity

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