ca·​tas·​tro·​phism kə-ˈta-strə-ˌfi-zəm How to pronounce catastrophism (audio)
: a geologic doctrine that changes in the earth's crust have in the past been brought about suddenly by physical forces operating in ways that cannot be observed today compare uniformitarianism
catastrophist noun

Examples of catastrophism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The result was an abrupt psychological shift from catastrophism to optimism, and from despair to self-confidence. Harold James, Foreign Affairs, 20 Apr. 2021 Kyle Paoletta discusses how the pendulum of climate coverage swings between catastrophism and heavy-handed reassurance, and has a chilling effect on climate resilience. Violet Lucca, Harper’s Magazine , 20 Mar. 2023 What gets left out entirely are the costs of catastrophism—not just politically or socially but psychologically. Kyle Paoletta, Harper’s Magazine , 13 Mar. 2023 Max: My instinct in situations like this is always to avoid catastrophism, but pretty much every day, Elon Musk has woken up and done something stupider and worse than the day before. The Politics Of Everything, The New Republic, 14 Dec. 2022 In parallel, fears of impending ecological collapse—stoked by the end of cheap oil and the catastrophism of bestsellers like The Limits to Growth and The Population Bomb—took the environmental movement mainstream. Aaron Timms, The New Republic, 31 Oct. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'catastrophism.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1869, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of catastrophism was in 1869

Dictionary Entries Near catastrophism

Cite this Entry

“Catastrophism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Apr. 2024.

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