disaster

noun
di·sas·ter | \ di-ˈzas-tər , -ˈsas- \

Definition of disaster 

1 obsolete, occult : an unfavorable aspect (see aspect sense 2a) of a planet or star

2 : a sudden calamitous event bringing great damage, loss, or destruction natural disasters broadly : a sudden or great misfortune or failure The party was a disaster.

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Did You Know?

Disaster has its roots in the belief that the positions of stars influence the fate of humans, often in destructive ways; its original meaning in English was "an unfavorable aspect of a planet or star." The word comes to us through Middle French and the Old Italian word disastro, from the Latin prefix dis- and Latin astro, meaning "star." Another unfortunate word that comes to us from astrological beliefs is "ill-starred." Now generally used in the sense of "unlucky" or "having or destined to a hapless fate," "ill-starred" was originally used literally to describe someone born under or guided by an evil star. We also have star-crossed, meaning "not favored by the stars" or "ill-fated."

Examples of disaster in a Sentence

The program examined several bridge failures and other engineering disasters. The new regulations could be a disaster for smaller businesses. They're trying to find a way to avoid disaster. The dinner party was a complete disaster.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The elimination of early tracking into training and vocational programs has been a disaster. Amy Chance, sacbee, "'Not all machines are evil,' and other thoughts on California's changing economy," 2 July 2018 Most of them seem to feel a calm fascination with natural disasters, like a woman who gets astonishingly drunk during a hurricane and imagines that men from her past visit her in increasingly loony scenarios verging on magical realism. Erin Berger, Outside Online, "Lauren Groff's 'Florida' Dives into the Swamp," 21 June 2018 This can spell disaster if that object is something like a tall, heavy dresser that comes with the risk of tipping over. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "Emergency Responders Share 9 of the Biggest Death Traps in Your Home," 14 July 2018 But a disappointing road loss to Memphis followed by double-digit losses to Stanford, Arizona, Washington and Utah spelled disaster. Matt Murschel, OrlandoSentinel.com, "New coach Chip Kelly’s UCLA Bruins are No. 45 in 2018 preseason college football rankings," 13 July 2018 The overall vibe given off by the initial trailer and poster that this was a throwback to the big-screen disaster movies of yore is made explicit in the retro posters shared by Johnson in the final weeks of the campaign. Chris Thilk, The Hollywood Reporter, "Dwayne Johnson's 'Skyscraper' Sells Itself as an Action Throwback," 13 July 2018 This encounter, known as the Battle of the Philippine Sea, resulted in complete and irremediable disaster for Imperial Japan, which lost three aircraft carriers and 300 planes under an American onslaught. Dorothy Rabinowitz, WSJ, "‘The Pacific War in Color: The Enemy Underground’ Review: War, Vividly Rendered," 12 July 2018 The caller promises that in 25 days a great disaster will visit Mumbai, and everybody will die. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "Sacred Games Reinvents the Police Procedural," 12 July 2018 But that forces them to drive in packs, so the tiniest mistake can cause a huge disaster. Michelle R. Martinelli, For The Win, "Breaking down the 7 craziest moments from NASCAR's summer Daytona race," 10 July 2018

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

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First Known Use of disaster

1567, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for disaster

Middle French & Old Italian; Middle French desastre, from Old Italian disastro, from dis- (from Latin) + astro star, from Latin astrum — more at astral

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Statistics for disaster

Last Updated

9 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for disaster

The first known use of disaster was in 1567

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More Definitions for disaster

disaster

noun

English Language Learners Definition of disaster

: something (such as a flood, tornado, fire, plane crash, etc.) that happens suddenly and causes much suffering or loss to many people

: something that has a very bad effect or result

: a complete or terrible failure

disaster

noun
di·sas·ter | \ diz-ˈas-tər , dis- \

Kids Definition of disaster

: something (as a flood or a tornado) that happens suddenly and causes much suffering or loss

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Comments on disaster

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