ca·​tas·​tro·​phism | \ kə-ˈta-strə-ˌfi-zəm How to pronounce catastrophism (audio) \

Definition of catastrophism

: a geological 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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from catastrophism

catastrophist \ kə-​ˈta-​strə-​fist How to pronounce catastrophist (audio) \ noun

Examples of catastrophism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

There’s something indulgent, even weirdly complacent, in the basement catastrophism of these dudes. James Parker, The Atlantic, "Live-Streaming the Apocalypse With NRATV," 5 May 2018 There would always be in his work an element of catastrophism, a doomed sense of the horrors to come. Edward Hirsch, New Republic, "Czeslaw Milosz’s Invincible Reason," 30 June 2017

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

First Known Use of catastrophism

1869, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about catastrophism

Statistics for catastrophism

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for catastrophism

The first known use of catastrophism was in 1869

See more words from the same year

More from Merriam-Webster on catastrophism Encyclopedia article about catastrophism

Comments on catastrophism

What made you want to look up catastrophism? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


having a desire to acquire more things

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!