[ 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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cataclysm

British Dictionary definitions for cataclysm


/ (ˈkætəˌklɪzəm) /


a violent upheaval, esp of a political, military, or social nature
a disastrous flood; deluge
geology another name for catastrophe (def. 4)

Derived Forms

cataclysmic or cataclysmal, adjectivecataclysmically, adverb

Word Origin for cataclysm

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