ca·​lam·​i·​ty kə-ˈla-mə-tē How to pronounce calamity (audio)
plural calamities
: a disastrous event marked by great loss and lasting distress and suffering
calamities of nature
an economic calamity
: 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 Family divide In Chinese culture, the loss of a child is seen not only as a great calamity for a family, but as a potential sign of more misfortune to come. Amy Qin, New York Times, 11 Feb. 2024 The second inferno, which destroyed much of the treasured town of Lahaina and claimed 100 lives, quickly overshadowed the calamity in Kula. Reis Thebault, Washington Post, 7 Feb. 2024 Amid the calamities of the Civil War, motion had emerged as the concept that linked natural philosophy to political theory. Merve Emre, The New Yorker, 29 Jan. 2024 Wednesday's cartoons - a Boeing calamity, a MAGA hostage situation, and more Subscribe The Week Magazine Subscribe for less than $3 per week with digital access and free home delivery. The Week Us, theweek, 10 Jan. 2024 Declarer finessed with dummy’s queen — and had a calamity: East won and led a trump, and West took the jack, king and ace and led his last trump. Frank Stewart, The Mercury News, 15 Jan. 2024 The world may be just six years away from breaching the Paris Agreement’s temperature target of 1.5 degrees Celsius, setting the stage for much worse calamities to come. E&e News, Scientific American, 20 Nov. 2023 The longer this goes on, the greater the chances of a calamity in the financial system. Jeff Sommer, New York Times, 17 Nov. 2023 Lahaina Strong has taken its demands directly to the state legislature, which opened this year’s session on Wednesday with a package of proposals aimed at wildfire recovery and preparation for future calamities. Reis Thebault, Washington Post, 21 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'calamity.' 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 calamytey, from Latin calamitat-, calamitas; perhaps akin to Latin clades destruction

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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

Dictionary Entries Near calamity

Cite this Entry

“Calamity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


ca·​lam·​i·​ty kə-ˈlam-ət-ē How to pronounce calamity (audio)
plural calamities
: deep distress or misery
: an event that causes great harm

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