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 However, an invasion without an exit strategy is a strategic calamity. James Nalton, Forbes, 8 June 2022 This would be a calamity, not least for her parents, who run a bar, and who are proud of their daughter’s brain. The New Yorker, 6 May 2022 At some point, the rest of them just shear off, and the result is calamity. Ray Magliozzi, San Diego Union-Tribune, 6 Mar. 2022 Putin's war against Ukraine is thus not only a calamity in its own right. Ulrich Schlie And Thomas Weber, CNN, 5 Mar. 2022 The assassination of President Moïse was just the latest calamity to befall Haiti. The Week Staff, The Week, 25 July 2021 If there is one calamity in U.S. history that captures the lengths to which White people were willing to go to impede Black economic progress after the Civil War, it’s the Tulsa race massacre. Washington Post, 28 May 2021 Fortunately, calamity was avoided and the incident didn’t seem to impact the outcome of the race. Martin Fritz Huber, Outside Online, 23 July 2022 But many of Harris’ difficulties have been her own doing, including stumbling TV interviews, persistent staff turnover and a penchant for verbal calamity when speaking off-script. Mark Z. Barabak, Los Angeles Times, 21 July 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

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

Dictionary Entries Near calamity



calamity howler

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for calamity

Last Updated

11 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Calamity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Commonly Confused Words Quiz

  • vector image of a face with thought expression
  • I went to the ______ store to buy a birthday card.
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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