Meaning of catastrophe in English:


Pronunciation /kəˈtastrəfi/

See synonyms for catastrophe

Translate catastrophe into Spanish


  • 1An event causing great and usually sudden damage or suffering; a disaster.

    ‘an environmental catastrophe’
    • ‘inaction will only bring us closer to catastrophe’
    • ‘Before this year of disasters even began, it was heralded by a natural catastrophe as sudden and violent as anything that followed.’
    • ‘Had they been accepted we would have had a local environmental catastrophe and a national commercial disaster.’
    • ‘This would be a cautionary tale of catastrophes narrowly averted and environmental damage now emerging.’
    • ‘This'll be the second time that we can point to impacts coinciding with major extinction events and other catastrophes.’
    • ‘Collisions and environmental catastrophes can be more easily avoided with improved coordination and guidance of ship traffic.’
    • ‘Along with many other noble agencies, they are always at the forefront of the relief effort following calamities and catastrophes at local, national and international level.’
    • ‘Khan said the disasters and catastrophes that this country has been experiencing were signs that the people need to have a change of heart.’
    • ‘And without a change of policy, the winter snows will soon begin to tilt this disaster into an international catastrophe.’
    • ‘Most regional geomorphological catastrophes involve the sudden release of large volumes of water.’
    • ‘It did not take long for the general to recognize the catastrophe's politically damaging consequences.’
    • ‘This event was a total catastrophe for the colonies that were left in total isolation, forced to survive alone.’
    • ‘The last two years were the hottest in recorded history, and recent wild weather patterns suggest that this global warming will bring with it an ever expanding plague of economic and human catastrophes.’
    • ‘Four years ago, we experienced one of the biggest environmental catastrophes in our history, and nobody covered it.’
    • ‘Today, the environmental catastrophes of history are repeated almost everywhere on the planet, on an unprecedented scale.’
    • ‘Besides, economic catastrophes rarely occur in markets that everyone is watching and sweating over.’
    • ‘They are profiting from increasing awareness that as the landfill and disposal space becomes scarcer, environmental catastrophes of ‘poisoned land’ become more documented.’
    • ‘Less than a year ago, buyers were bravely keeping the economy afloat, being valiant and refusing to be put off by scare stories about economic catastrophes.’
    • ‘Last week's unprecedented events could have a far more profound effect on economic psychology than other catastrophes.’
    • ‘If released into the air it could cause an environmental catastrophe similar to the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear station in Ukraine in 1986.’
    • ‘The Caribbean may be in for a greater catastrophe if shelters used in the event of natural disasters are not properly constructed and located.’
    disaster, calamity, cataclysm, crisis, holocaust, ruin, ruination, tragedy, blow, shock
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    1. 1.1Something very unfortunate or unsuccessful.
      ‘the tax would be a catastrophe for the industry’
      • ‘I mean, it's a catastrophe for the industry that really doesn't need one more.’
      • ‘Overall it is not thought that the film industry will be too severely affected by yesterday's catastrophe.’
      • ‘The dread of even a single potential catastrophe and its implications for all industry members outweighed any objection to a reporting system for near misses.’
      • ‘In the event of a financial catastrophe, they expect to be bailed out by government deposit insurance and the Fed.’
      • ‘For instance, if you habitually turn trivial events into catastrophes, or repeatedly focus selectively on the unpleasant aspects of your experiences, you are more likely to find yourself in a dark mood.’
      • ‘People with GAD tend to overestimate the likelihood of harm coming from a given situation and view minor or ambiguous events as catastrophes.’
      • ‘With the narrowness of the streets, the crowded estates and the thinness of residents' walls, it is hard to insulate yourself from the dramas and catastrophes of the people who live near you.’
      • ‘Sophie's life, as rendered here, is a series of catastrophes nearly averted, not a string of triumphs.’
      • ‘The compartmentalization that academics have allowed themselves to fall victim to is a catastrophe.’
      • ‘He added that seeing people come to terms with tragedy and catastrophe had played a profound role on his spiritual beliefs and influenced his faith.’
  • 2The denouement of a drama, especially a classical tragedy.

    • ‘This is an old insight, of course - as old as the domestic catastrophes of classical Greek drama.’


Mid 16th century (in the sense ‘denouement’): from Latin catastropha, from Greek katastrophē ‘overturning, sudden turn’, from kata- ‘down’ + strophē ‘turning’ (from strephein ‘to turn’).