ca·​lam·​i·​ty | \ kə-ˈla-mə-tē How to pronounce calamity (audio) \
plural calamities

Definition of calamity

1 : a disastrous event marked by great loss and lasting distress and suffering calamities of nature an economic calamity
2 : a state of deep distress or misery caused by major misfortune or loss

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Examples of calamity in a Sentence

Twenty two years passed. Twenty-two years of excellent health and the boundless self-assurance that flows from being fit—twenty-two years spared the adversary that is illness and the calamity that waits in the wings. — Phillip Roth, Everyman, 2006 A resentment born of the suspicion that all along the media were up to their usual tricks, hyping a national calamity to the max in order to make us buy more copies and tune into TV specials … — Christopher Buckley, Time, 29 Nov. 1999 In the wake of this year's unending calamities, there has been renewed discussion of the need for an international rapid deployment force that can kick down doors to help victims of disasters. — Kathleen Hunt, New York Times Magazine, 28 July 1991 floods, earthquakes, and other calamities He predicted calamity for the economy.
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Recent Examples on the Web The additional powers will remain in effect for at least three months or until the state of calamity in the entire country is lifted. CNN, 8 Sep. 2021 Criticism is raining down on him, with Republicans blaming him for the calamity in Kabul and even Democrats breaking from him for the first time on a major issue., 28 Aug. 2021 In plain, spare prose, Hersey documents scenes of unprecedented ruin, capturing the ghostly residuum of calamity. Erin Overbey, The New Yorker, 26 Aug. 2021 Who teaches me, by example, how to navigate the postreproductive half of my life: Gather friends in your home and feed them, laugh in the face of calamity, cut out all the things––people, jobs, body parts––that no longer serve you. Deborah Copaken, The Atlantic, 25 July 2021 Skies were largely overcast in eastern Belgium, with hopes rising that the worst of the calamity was over., 17 July 2021 The implications of this calamity extend far beyond India, which is what Kumar has been sounding alarms on all along. S. Mitra Kalita, Fortune, 5 May 2021 While many countries, including Canada, have suspended travel from India, some countries have gone beyond such knee-jerk moves and announced aid and relief measures to support India during this calamity. Madhukar Pai, Forbes, 26 Apr. 2021 Thinking back to the impact of the crash on Hogan personally, Dodson wonders how Woods will take stock of his life in the aftermath of this latest calamity. Los Angeles Times, 28 Feb. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'calamity.' 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 calamity

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for calamity

Middle English calamytey, from Latin calamitat-, calamitas; perhaps akin to Latin clades destruction

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Time Traveler for calamity

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The first known use of calamity was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

16 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Calamity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for calamity



English Language Learners Definition of calamity

: an event that causes great harm and suffering : disaster


ca·​lam·​i·​ty | \ kə-ˈla-mə-tē How to pronounce calamity (audio) \
plural calamities

Kids Definition of calamity

1 : great distress or misfortune … he felt oppressed by the vague sense of impending calamity.— Jack London, The Call of the Wild
2 : an event that causes great harm and suffering : disaster

Other Words from calamity

calamitous \ -​təs \ adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on calamity

Nglish: Translation of calamity for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of calamity for Arabic Speakers


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