- a calamitous event, especially one occurring suddenly and causing great loss of life, damage, or hardship, as a flood, airplane crash, or business failure.
- Obsolete. an unfavorable aspect of a star or planet.
Origin of disaster
1585–95; < Middle French desastre < Italian disastro, equivalent to dis- dis-1 + astro star < Latin astrum < Greek ástron
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
1. mischance, misfortune, misadventure, mishap, accident, blow, reverse, adversity, affliction.
1. Disaster, calamity, catastrophe, cataclysm refer to adverse happenings often occurring suddenly and unexpectedly. A disaster may be caused by carelessness, negligence, bad judgment, or the like, or by natural forces, as a hurricane or flood: a railroad disaster. Calamity suggests great affliction, either personal or general; the emphasis is on the grief or sorrow caused: the calamity of losing a child. Catastrophe refers especially to the tragic outcome of a personal or public situation; the emphasis is on the destruction or irreplaceable loss: the catastrophe of a defeat in battle. Cataclysm, physically an earth-shaking change, refers to a personal or public upheaval of unparalleled violence: a cataclysm that turned his life in a new direction.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for disaster
Also like the Air France disaster, the pilots of AirAsia had no time to issue a mayday call.Did Bad Weather Bring Down AirAsia 8501?
December 29, 2014
THE NEW YORK TIMES/JILL ABRAMSON DISASTER: It was messy enough when, on May 14, New York Times Co.The Bloodiest Media Coups of 2014
December 22, 2014
The 1986 Chernobyl disaster is widely considered to be the greatest nuclear catastrophe in world history.Chernobyl Drones, Star Wars and More Viral Videos
The Daily Beast Video
November 30, 2014
You are converging two events that are freighted with expectations, essentially doubling your risk of disaster.How to Make It Through Thanksgiving Alive
November 26, 2014
At the time of the disaster, people from all over the world vowed to help.Madonna, Carla Bruni & Obama Abandoned Pledges To Rebuild L'Aquila After The Quake
Barbie Latza Nadeau
November 18, 2014
On Sidney—and in less measure, of course, on K.—fell the real brunt of the disaster.K
Mary Roberts Rinehart
So he caught their minds as he had caught the Stick, swinging back from disaster.The Trail Book
Verily their way shall be filled with disaster; lo, then we shall rest.The Babylonian Legends of the Creation
On Mike's face was a map of disaster; the disaster might be trivial or great.
No good can come of it—no good has ever come of it—nothing but disaster and trouble.
- an occurrence that causes great distress or destruction
- a thing, project, etc, that fails or has been ruined
C16 (originally in the sense: malevolent astral influence): from Italian disastro, from dis- (pejorative) + astro star, from Latin astrum, from Greek astron
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
Word Origin and History for disaster
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper