cat·​a·​clysm | \ ˈka-tə-ˌkli-zəm How to pronounce cataclysm (audio) \

Definition of cataclysm

1 : flood, deluge
3 : a momentous and violent event marked by overwhelming upheaval and demolition broadly : an event that brings great changes an international economic cataclysm

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from cataclysm

cataclysmal \ ˌka-​tə-​ˈkliz-​məl How to pronounce cataclysm (audio) \ or cataclysmic \ ˌka-​tə-​ˈkliz-​mik How to pronounce cataclysm (audio) \ adjective
cataclysmically \ ˌka-​tə-​ˈkliz-​mi-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce cataclysm (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for cataclysm



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of cataclysm in a Sentence

floods, earthquakes, and other cataclysms The country barely survived the cataclysm of war. The revolution could result in worldwide cataclysm.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Crises, at least of the American variety, sometimes announce themselves long before the fact, like a save-the-date notice for a future cataclysm. Jelani Cobb, The New Yorker, 3 Oct. 2021 The commissioner’s second take was a fitting moment for a cataclysm steeped in media angles. Washington Post, 29 Sep. 2021 The Taliban’s takeover has upended international assistance programs for Afghanistan, a cataclysm for the aid-dependent country. Los Angeles Times, 17 Sep. 2021 Even when a cataclysm occurs, and the life of one of Amy’s family members is at stake, the movie keeps us supremely aware of the logistics of the phone. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 13 Sep. 2021 Just about every fish on the planet would be forced to confront the cataclysm while mourning at least one beloved bicycle. Judy Berman, Time, 8 Sep. 2021 By then, Britain had recorded more than 50,000 deaths from the virus, a cataclysm that critics blamed at least in part on the government’s sluggishness in acting. New York Times, 5 July 2021 Since then, American cities have improved their heat-emergency strategies—opening high-school gyms as community cooling centers, for instance—but the Pacific Northwest remains vulnerable to a cataclysm. Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic, 29 June 2021 If, in some cataclysm, all of scientific knowledge were to be destroyed, and only one sentence passed on to the next generations of creatures, what statement would contain the most information in the fewest words? Priyamvada Natarajan, The New York Review of Books, 15 June 2021

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

1599, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for cataclysm

French cataclysme, from Latin cataclysmos, from Greek kataklysmos, from kataklyzein to inundate, from kata- + klyzein to wash — more at clyster

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About cataclysm

Time Traveler for cataclysm

Time Traveler

The first known use of cataclysm was in 1599

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near cataclysm




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for cataclysm

Last Updated

16 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Cataclysm.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Oct. 2021.

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

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for cataclysm



English Language Learners Definition of cataclysm

: something that causes great destruction, violence, etc.

More from Merriam-Webster on cataclysm

Nglish: Translation of cataclysm for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet pasta spelling help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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