catastrophe theory


: mathematical theory and conjecture that uses topology to explain events (such as an earthquake or a stock market crash) characterized by major abrupt changes

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Spencer Wells implicitly endorses this reality by his tacit support for the Toba catastrophe theory. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 5 Nov. 2010 Vogel reports that Stanley Ambrose of the University of Illinois, one of the originators of the Toba catastrophe theory, argues that layers of sand above the ash indicates climate change at the Pinnacles site and a decrease in population. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, 14 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'catastrophe theory.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

1971, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of catastrophe theory was in 1971

Dictionary Entries Near catastrophe theory

Cite this Entry

“Catastrophe theory.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Mar. 2023.

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