- a sudden and widespread disaster: the catastrophe of war.
- any misfortune, mishap, or failure; fiasco: The play was so poor our whole evening was a catastrophe.
- a final event or conclusion, usually an unfortunate one; a disastrous end: the great catastrophe of the Old South at Appomattox.
- (in a drama) the point at which the circumstances overcome the central motive, introducing the close or conclusion; dénouement.Compare catastasis, epitasis, protasis.
- Geology. a sudden, violent disturbance, especially of a part of the surface of the earth; cataclysm.
- Also called catastrophe function. Mathematics. any of the mathematical functions that describe the discontinuities that are treated in catastrophe theory.
Origin of catastrophe
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for catastrophe
But a Western policy that is blind to the urgent need for reform and justice is certain to end in catastrophe.Why’s Al Qaeda So Strong? Washington Has (Literally) No idea
November 9, 2014
This is a critical system that leaves you one failure away from catastrophe, as in this case.Can Anyone Make Space Safe for Civilians?
November 4, 2014
An independent Scotland would be a catastrophe as a country.Up to a Point: A Free Scotland Would Be a Hilarious Disaster
P. J. O’Rourke
September 13, 2014
State officials, military and aviation experts in both countries hurried to shift the blame for the catastrophe.MH17 Black Box ‘Sent to Moscow for Investigation’
July 17, 2014
This is, in every conceivable way, a recipe for catastrophe.Why the Caliphate Will Devour Its Children
July 11, 2014
Had Mrs. Bines been above talking to low people, a catastrophe might have been averted.The Spenders
Harry Leon Wilson
At this catastrophe, he was about twenty-seven years of age.A Sketch of the Life of Brig. Gen. Francis Marion
William Dobein James
Such a journey seemed like a catastrophe in his calm existence.The Dream
"It's like a catastrophe," remarked Monny, looking as if she blamed me.It Happened in Egypt
C. N. Williamson
For him this was desolation, such a catastrophe that he forgot his torments.The Three Cities Trilogy, Complete
- a sudden, extensive, or notable disaster or misfortune
- the denouement of a play, esp a classical tragedy
- a final decisive event, usually causing a disastrous end
- Also called: cataclysm any sudden and violent change in the earth's surface caused by flooding, earthquake, or some other rapid process
Word Origin and History for catastrophe
1530s, "reversal of what is expected" (especially a fatal turning point in a drama), from Latin catastropha, from Greek katastrophe "an overturning; a sudden end," from katastrephein "to overturn, turn down, trample on; to come to an end," from kata "down" (see cata-) + strephein "turn" (see strophe). Extension to "sudden disaster" is first recorded 1748.