- 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
1. See disaster.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for cataclysm
In the cataclysm that followed, the survival of republican government indeed was in peril.The Right Wing Screams for the Wambulance Over Gay Marriage Ruling
October 13, 2014
The poet remains coolly detached: a circumspect observer in the face of cataclysm.Catastrophe in Verse
April 21, 2011
There was no doubt in his mind that somehow they had been responsible for the cataclysm.Pirates of the Gorm
De Launay dominated her, and she stood as rigid as a statue, awaiting the cataclysm.Louisiana Lou
William West Winter
He had snatched a soul for himself out of a cataclysm, remember.A Set of Six
I have been trying to save my soul with it in the cataclysm of a world.The Ghost in the White House
Gerald Stanley Lee
Back had they gone to town, and then came the cataclysm of noon.Warrior Gap
- a violent upheaval, esp of a political, military, or social nature
- a disastrous flood; deluge
- geology another name for catastrophe (def. 4)
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
Word Origin and History for cataclysm
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper