definitions
  • synonyms

catastrophe

[ kuh-tas-truh-fee ]
/ kəˈtæs trə fi /
||
SEE MORE SYNONYMS FOR catastrophe ON THESAURUS.COM

noun

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.

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Nearby words

catarrhal inflammation, catarrhine, catastalsis, catastaltic, catastasis, catastrophe, catastrophe theory, catastrophic, catastrophic reaction, catastrophism, catastrophize

Origin of catastrophe

1570–80; < Greek katastrophḗ an overturning, akin to katastréphein to overturn. See cata-, strophe
SYNONYMS FOR catastrophe
Related formscat·a·stroph·ic [kat-uh-strof-ik] /ˌkæt əˈstrɒf ɪk/, cat·a·stroph·i·cal, ca·tas·tro·phal, adjectivesu·per·ca·tas·tro·phe, noun

Synonym study

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

Examples from the Web for catastrophe

British Dictionary definitions for catastrophe

catastrophe

/ (kəˈtæstrəfɪ) /

noun

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
Derived Formscatastrophic (ˌkætəˈstrɒfɪk), adjectivecatastrophically, adverb

Word Origin for catastrophe

C16: from Greek katastrophē, from katastrephein to overturn, from strephein to turn
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 catastrophe

catastrophe


n.

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper