Definition of catastrophe
1 : the final event of the dramatic action especially of a tragedy
2 : a momentous tragic event ranging from extreme misfortune to utter overthrow or ruin Deforestation and erosion can lead to an ecological catastrophe.
3a : a violent and sudden change in a feature of the earthb : a violent usually destructive natural event (as a supernova)
4 : utter failure : fiasco the party was a catastrophe
catastrophicplay \ˌka-tə-ˈsträ-fik\ adjective
catastrophicallyplay \-fi-k(ə-)lē\ adverb
catastrophe was our Word of the Day on 04/28/2011. Hear the podcast!
Examples of catastrophe in a sentence
The oil spill was an environmental catastrophe.
Experts fear a humanitarian catastrophe if food isn't delivered to the refugees soon.
an area on the brink of catastrophe
Recent Examples of catastrophe from the web
the most heartbreaking for me is about the old English lesbian who has just lost her companion in the catastrophe.
World leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe.
More than 300 people drowned, most of them teenagers on a school trip, and the country was scarred by the catastrophe, perhaps the worst in its peacetime history.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry issued an angry and sarcastic response to a statement from six Western countries a day earlier that had warned of a humanitarian catastrophe in Aleppo.
Not to silence the approaching catastrophe with hysteria, not to nod at the T.V. set searching for those to blame (‘Americans, of course!’), but to see the problems in ourselves.
A chubby kid making inappropriate jokes about 9/11 in the fresh wake of that catastrophe.
For example, out in California, right now, there is an ongoing environmental catastrophe of planetary significance—a Deepwater Horizon of the atmosphere.
The effects are real--Euro-pean McD's sales slipped 10 percent in Q4, a catastrophe for a market that's supposed to be among the company's fastest growing.
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Did You Know?
When English speakers first borrowed the Greek word catastrophe in the 1500s, they used it for the conclusion or final event of a dramatic work, especially of a tragedy. By the early 1600s, "catastrophe" was being used more generally of any generally unhappy conclusion or disastrous or ruinous end. By the 18th century, "catastrophe" had come to denote truly devastating events, such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Finally, it came to be applied to things that are only figuratively catastrophic - burnt dinners, lost luggage, really bad movies, etc.
Origin and Etymology of catastrophe
Greek katastrophē, from katastrephein to overturn, from kata- + strephein to turn
First Known Use: 1540
CATASTROPHE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of catastrophe for English Language Learners
: a terrible disaster
CATASTROPHE Defined for Kids
Medical Definition of catastrophe
: death (as from an inexplicable cause) before, during, or after an operation
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