Word of the Day : April 28, 2011


noun kuh-TASS-truh-fee


1 a : a violent and sudden change in a feature of the earth

b : a violent usually destructive natural event (as a supernova)

2 : utter failure : fiasco


The party was a catastrophe; the band didn't show up, the food was awful, and a sudden rain shower sent the guests running for cover.

"The democratization of economics owes much to the financial crisis that first hit in 2007. That ongoing catastrophe, which few economists predicted, tarnished the profession's reputation, prompting some to look elsewhere for answers." -- From an article by Stephen Mihm in The New York Times Magazine, December 19, 2010

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.

Name That Synonym

Fill in the blanks to create a synonym of "catastrophe": clmt. The answer is ...


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