noun, plural ca·lam·i·ties.

a great misfortune or disaster, as a flood or serious injury.
grievous affliction; adversity; misery: the calamity of war.

Origin of calamity

1375–1425; late Middle English calamite < Middle French < Latin calamitāt- (stem of calamitās), perhaps akin to incolumitās safety

Synonyms for calamity

Synonym study

1. See disaster. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for calamity

Contemporary Examples of calamity

Historical Examples of calamity

  • Oh, Colonel, help me to guard against so dreadful a calamity.

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


    William J. Locke

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

  • 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 plural -ties

a disaster or misfortune, esp one causing extreme havoc, distress, or misery
a state or feeling of deep distress or misery

Word Origin for calamity

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

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