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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web Ten minutes before the maiden voyage of the Titanic ended in calamity, a radio operator aboard the nearby SS Californian signaled that there was an iceberg in the ship's path. Nicole Sganga, CBS News, 13 Apr. 2022 The shutoffs caused a different type of calamity, leaving thousands of vulnerable people in the dark and causing major business losses because of fallout like spoiled food. Julie Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle, 8 Mar. 2022 In promos over the years, the hole’s chilling history of calamity is highlighted with one replay after another of players dunking their fortunes in the water. Steve Dimeglio, The Arizona Republic, 7 Mar. 2022 There are now so many people and so many of our valuable possessions potentially in the path of calamity. Joel Achenbach, Washington Post, 24 Feb. 2022 The White House keeps warning that Europe is on the cusp of a calamity. Rebeccah Heinrichs, National Review, 24 Feb. 2022 Inside the eerily quiet metropolis, the lockdown and its ensuing calamity have become a watershed moment for locals and expatriates. Steven Jiang, CNN, 19 Apr. 2022 One has been prevented by a snowstorm or other calamity from returning on Day Two, or Traxler has been stranded in Minnesota because a plane couldn’t fly. Peter Slevin, The New Yorker, 25 Mar. 2022 The tsunami that crippled that plant left Japan with a formidable challenge: How does a quake- and tsunami-prone island nation dotted with nuclear reactors protect against another calamity? New York Times, 16 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

19 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Calamity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for calamity


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

More from Merriam-Webster on calamity

Nglish: Translation of calamity for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of calamity for Arabic Speakers


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