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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web When media reviewers peeled off the plastic covering from the $2,000 device, calamity ensued. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, "Does This Apple Patent Mean What We Think It Means?," 6 Feb. 2020 The wider music industry has moved quickly to raise money for organizations battling the calamity and those helping to rebuild and repair. Lars Brandle, Billboard, "Queen and Adam Lambert, Alice Cooper, k.d. lang Confirmed For Sydney Bushfire Relief Concert," 13 Jan. 2020 The tragedy serves as a grim reminder of the vagaries of fire, Mother Nature, and calamity in our communities, and provides us with a wake-up call to be ever mindful of the dangers in our homes — especially during the upcoming holiday season. Kevin Dayhoff,, "Dayhoff: Tragic reminder of the need to practice fire safety this holiday season," 15 Nov. 2019 Each painting, which will be showcased and offered for sale through August, evoked for those at the reception feelings and emotions running the gamut from a sense of calm to striking calamity and everything in between. Rick Menning,, "Students of spontaneity: First-time artists tackle abstract expressionism in exhibit," 2 Aug. 2019 Catastrophes such as an epidemic, an unexpected decline in prey, natural calamities or retaliatory killings could result in the extinction of the lion population when they are restricted to single populations, the action plan adds. Anup Dutta, Quartz India, "Kuno is ready to become India’s second lion sanctuary, 29 years after it was identified," 27 Nov. 2019 One of the animals that stole Nyong'o's heart in the series is Bakari the baboon, who ends up caring for a baby among the clan when calamity strikes. Nekesa Mumbi Moody,, "Series aims to tell wildlife stories from different view," 2 Aug. 2019 Their children Kate Gleeson and Peter Stanhope become close friends, but eventually calamity strikes. Sydney Bucksbaum,, "Jimmy Fallon reveals Mary Beth Keane’s Ask Again, Yes as Tonight Show summer read," 26 July 2019 If a calamity similar to the Exxon Valdez or BP oil spills were to occur today, however, the punishment for loss of birds would likely be much smaller—if there were any punishment at all. National Geographic, "See the Full Archive," 4 Feb. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about calamity

Time Traveler for calamity

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for calamity

Last Updated

19 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Calamity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Apr. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for calamity


How to pronounce calamity (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on calamity

What made you want to look up calamity? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

March 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • field of crocuses
  • Which is a synonym of rectitudinous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!