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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web The defense, which was a calamity at times, needs an upgrade. Matt Murschel,, 29 Aug. 2021 For all Americans, the arrival of COVID-19 was a calamity without precedent. Dhruv Khullar, The New Yorker, 15 Apr. 2021 Economists have cautioned that a U.S. default could plunge the economy into recession and set off a global financial calamity. Washington Post, 22 Sep. 2021 In little more than three decades, the fire had gone from calamity to entertainment, and those entertainments would keep coming. Rick Kogan,, 10 Sep. 2021 The series is based on an acclaimed comic book created by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra, set in the aftermath of a calamity that instantly wipes out every cis male on the planet save for Yorick and his monkey, Ampersand. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 8 Sep. 2021 Manchester City might need to sign Erling Haaland to save soccer from financial calamity. New York Times, 17 Apr. 2021 In one storyline, he is mocked by other birds but overcomes adversity and, in the end, saves a family from calamity. Dewayne Bevil,, 26 Mar. 2021 In total, about 1,000 chickens died after the burst pipe, but that wasn’t the greatest loss from the calamity. Claire Ballor, Dallas News, 12 Mar. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About calamity

Time Traveler for calamity

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near calamity



calamity howler

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for calamity

Last Updated

10 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Calamity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Oct. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Dog Words Quiz

  • shiba puppy more or less demanding cuddles
  • Which of the following animals has a dog in its etymology?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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