[ kuh-tas-truh-fiz-uh m ]
/ kəˈtæs trəˌfɪz əm /

noun Geology.

the doctrine that certain vast geological changes in the earth's history were caused by catastrophes rather than gradual evolutionary processes.

Nearby words

  1. catastasis,
  2. catastrophe,
  3. catastrophe theory,
  4. catastrophic,
  5. catastrophic reaction,
  6. catastrophize,
  7. catatonia,
  8. catatonic,
  9. catatonic rigidity,
  10. catatonic schizophrenia

Origin of catastrophism

First recorded in 1865–70; catastrophe + -ism

Related formsca·tas·tro·phist, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for catastrophist

British Dictionary definitions for catastrophist


/ (kəˈtæstrəˌfɪzəm) /


an old doctrine, now discarded, that the earth was created and has subsequently been shaped by sudden divine acts which have no logical connection with each other rather than by gradual evolutionary processes
Also called: neo-catastrophism a modern doctrine that the gradual evolutionary processes shaping the earth have been supplemented in the past by the effects of huge natural catastrophesCompare uniformitarianism, gradualism (def. 2)
Derived Formscatastrophist, noun

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 catastrophist


Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Culture definitions for catastrophist


[ (kuh-tas-truh-fiz-uhm) ]

A theory holding that changes in the Earth take place swiftly and irreversibly. (Contrast gradualism.)


A belief in Noah's flood is one version of catastrophism.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.