[ kuh-tas-truh-fahyz ]
/ k蓹藞t忙s tr蓹藢fa瑟z /
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verb (used with or without object), ca路tas路tro路phized, ca路tas路tro路phiz路ing.
to view or talk about (an event or situation) as worse than it actually is, or as if it were a catastrophe: Stop catastrophizing and get on with your life!She tends to catastrophize her symptoms.
Should you take this quiz on 鈥渟hall鈥 versus 鈥渟hould鈥? It should prove to be a quick challenge!
Question 1 of 6
Which form is used to state an obligation or duty someone has?

Origin of catastrophize

First recorded in 1960鈥65; catastroph(e) + -ize
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, 漏 Random House, Inc. 2022


What does聽catastrophize mean?

To catastrophize is to think of a situation as much worse than it really is鈥攖o act as if a negative circumstance is the worst possible scenario.

A catastrophe is a disaster or an utter failure or fiasco鈥攊t鈥檚 when something has gone wrong in the worst way. Catastrophize comes from psychology but is now also used in everyday speech. In British English, it鈥檚 usually spelled catastrophise.

Example: I wish you wouldn鈥檛 catastrophize,鈥 she said. 鈥淭hings really aren鈥檛 that bad!

Where does聽catastrophize come from?

Catastrophize is a combination of catastrophe (from the Greek katastroph岣, meaning 鈥渁n overturning鈥) and the suffix -ize, meaning to 鈥渃onvert into.鈥 So when you catastrophize something, you turn it into a catastrophe even though it鈥檚 not really that bad.

Catastrophe has been in use since the 1500s. Catastrophize has been recorded in use since the 1600s, when it had the now-obsolete meaning of 鈥渢o end a comedy or other form of play.鈥 The first record of its modern sense comes from the 1960s from the field of psychology. It is especially used in the discussion of stress, anxiety, and related disorders. A person who catastrophizes may see their symptoms as much worse than they really are, or they may blow a negative event out of proportion (for example, by saying that they鈥檒l never graduate or get a job or be able to buy a house because they got one B on a test). Like many psychology terms, catastrophize has passed into popular use.

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What are some other forms of catastrophize?

What are some words that share a root or word element with catastrophize?


What are some words that often get used in discussing catastrophize?


How is聽catastrophize used in real life?

Catastrophize is used in psychology but it has become common enough to be applied to other subjects in everyday speech.

Try using聽catastrophize!

Which of these common sayings has a meaning similar to catastrophize?

  1. Make a mountain out of a molehill
  2. Beat around the bush
  3. If you can鈥檛 stand the heat, get out of the kitchen

How to use catastrophize in a sentence