cat·​a·​clysm | \ ˈka-tə-ˌkli-zəm How to pronounce cataclysm (audio) \

Definition of cataclysm

1 : flood, deluge
3 : a momentous and violent event marked by overwhelming upheaval and demolition broadly : an event that brings great changes an international economic cataclysm

Other Words from cataclysm

cataclysmal \ ˌka-​tə-​ˈkliz-​məl How to pronounce cataclysm (audio) \ or cataclysmic \ ˌka-​tə-​ˈkliz-​mik How to pronounce cataclysm (audio) \ adjective
cataclysmically \ ˌka-​tə-​ˈkliz-​mi-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce cataclysm (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for cataclysm



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Examples of cataclysm in a Sentence

floods, earthquakes, and other cataclysms The country barely survived the cataclysm of war. The revolution could result in worldwide cataclysm.
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Recent Examples on the Web Adam McKay knows full well how the big Hollywood movie about the impending global cataclysm is typically supposed to go. Josh Rottenberg, Los Angeles Times, 24 Dec. 2021 With Obamacare slowly wending its way through Congress that fall, comparisons to the Clinton cataclysm in 1994 were inevitable. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, 22 Oct. 2021 The cataclysm of 9/11 changes everything for Dana and Charles, but the film doesn’t just culminate in what happens to him in combat. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 19 Dec. 2021 The hope had been -- at least in the immediate aftermath of January 6 -- that that day had been such a near-cataclysm for the country that no one wanted to repeat it. Chris Cillizza, CNN, 9 Nov. 2021 The ban on live music has been a cataclysm for the wedding performers such as those who taught at the Ghos al Din. Los Angeles Times, 24 Sep. 2021 As if an impending cataclysm wasn't enough, now Team Flash has to deal with a nuclear crisis too. Chancellor Agard,, 23 Nov. 2021 This look is consistent with what historians have classified as the city’s Fourth Style, which was prevalent in the years immediately before the cataclysm. Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker, 22 Nov. 2021 To defeat Despero and prevent the eponymous cataclysm, Barry enlists the help of several heroes like Black Lightning (Cress Williams) and the Atom (Brandon Routh); however, Barry will need Iris, too. Chancellor Agard,, 16 Nov. 2021

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

1599, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for cataclysm

French cataclysme, from Latin cataclysmos, from Greek kataklysmos, from kataklyzein to inundate, from kata- + klyzein to wash — more at clyster

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The first known use of cataclysm was in 1599

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Last Updated

25 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Cataclysm.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jan. 2022.

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English Language Learners Definition of cataclysm

: something that causes great destruction, violence, etc.

More from Merriam-Webster on cataclysm

Nglish: Translation of cataclysm for Spanish Speakers


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