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
3 a : a violent and sudden change in a feature of the earth b : 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
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
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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