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90s Slang You Should Know


[kat-uh-kliz-uh m] /ˈkæt əˌklɪz əm/
any violent upheaval, especially one of a social or political nature.
Physical Geography. a sudden and violent physical action producing changes in the earth's surface.
an extensive flood; deluge.
Origin of cataclysm
1625-35; < Late Latin cataclysmos (Vulgate) < Greek kataklysmós flood (akin to kataklýzein to flood), equivalent to kata- cata- + klysmós a washing
Can be confused
cataclysm, catechism.
Synonym Study
1. See disaster. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for cataclysm
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Men everywhere felt that the social system was threatened with a cataclysm.

    Albert Gallatin John Austin Stevens
  • The goal had all but been attained when the cataclysm struck.

    The Black Phantom Leo Edward Miller
  • And the second cataclysm in the House, even at its worst (which was what mamma had made it), was hardly comparable to the first.

    V. V.'s Eyes Henry Sydnor Harrison
  • The cataclysm of the French Revolution interrupted his studies.

  • I leave these airy words of prophecy as they stood in 1912 before the cataclysm!

  • It took him a long time to readjust himself to this cataclysm.

    The Making of Bobby Burnit George Randolph Chester
  • He was the first writer who ventured to maintain that the universality of the Mosaic cataclysm ought not to be insisted upon.

    Principles of Geology Charles Lyell
  • His voice was a mere wheeze, issuing from a cataclysm of agonized mirth.

British Dictionary definitions for cataclysm


a violent upheaval, esp of a political, military, or social nature
a disastrous flood; deluge
(geology) another name for catastrophe (sense 4)
Derived Forms
cataclysmic, cataclysmal, adjective
cataclysmically, adverb
Word Origin
C17: via French from Latin, from Greek kataklusmos deluge, from katakluzein to flood, from kluzein to wash
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 cataclysm

1630s, from French cataclysme (16c.), from Latin cataclysmos or directly from Greek kataklysmos "deluge, flood, inundation," from kataklyzein "to deluge," from kata "down" (see cata-) + klyzein "to wash," from PIE *kleue- "to wash, clean" (see cloaca).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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