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[kuh-lam-i-tee] /kəˈlæm ɪ ti/
noun, plural calamities.
a great misfortune or disaster, as a flood or serious injury.
grievous affliction; adversity; misery:
the calamity of war.
Origin of calamity
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English calamite < Middle French < Latin calamitāt- (stem of calamitās), perhaps akin to incolumitās safety
1. reverse, blow, catastrophe, cataclysm; mischance, mishap.
Synonym Study
1. See disaster. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for calamity
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Oh, Colonel, help me to guard against so dreadful a calamity.

  • Decidedly, Dick had been a godsend, and his absence would be a calamity.

    Viviette William J. Locke
  • Three things have happened, either one of which would alone have been a calamity.

    The Bacillus of Beauty Harriet Stark
  • Doubtless posterity has acquired a better city by the calamity of that generation.

    Old News Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • What horrible thing, what calamity that frightened my soul to think of, had fallen on me?

    Green Mansions W. H. Hudson
British Dictionary definitions for calamity


noun (pl) -ties
a disaster or misfortune, esp one causing extreme havoc, distress, or misery
a state or feeling of deep distress or misery
Word Origin
C15: from French calamité, from Latin calamitās; related to Latin incolumis uninjured
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for calamity

early 15c., from Middle French calamite (14c.), from Latin calamitatem (nominative calamitas) "damage, loss, failure; disaster, misfortune, adversity," origin obscure. Early etymologists associated it with calamus "straw" (see shawm); but it is perhaps from a lost root preserved in incolumis "uninjured," from PIE *kle-mo-, from base *kel- "to strike, cut" (see hilt).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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