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 (such as a supernova)
4 : utter failure : fiasco the party was a catastrophe
catastrophicplay \ˌka-tə-ˈsträ-fik\ adjective
catastrophicallyplay \-fi-k(ə-)lē\ adverb
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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 fracture of Oroville Dam’s main flood-control spillway created a near-catastrophe, spawned multiple investigations and left lawmakers and locals grumbling about the state’s stewardship of the structure.
Five minutes earlier or five minutes later -- who knows what greater fortune or catastrophe might have happened?
There’s an effort now to spin words to present this trip as something less than an utter catastrophe for U.S. interests in Europe.
Along with the militants still in parts of the city, tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians remain trapped in their homes, creating the potential for a humanitarian catastrophe if they’re not evacuated safely.
With the first lesson, Norcross is basically saying that Andrew proved that with hurricanes, an utter catastrophe is never beyond the realm of possibility.
This was true even before the events of Wednesday night, when Gianforte assaulted Ben Jacobs of The Guardian for the offense of asking him about the CBO score on that new healthcare catastrophe.
The catastrophe sent 12 billion gallons of water — carrying mud, boulders, trees and debris — crashing down San Francisquito Canyon.
But in an impoverished nation of more than 100 million people, where many live near the coast and on and around mountains and volcanoes, deadly natural catastrophes are a part of life in one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'catastrophe'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
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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