Definition of cataclysm in English:


Pronunciation /ˈkadəˌklizəm/ /ˈkædəˌklɪzəm/

See synonyms for cataclysm

Translate cataclysm into Spanish


  • 1A large-scale and violent event in the natural world.

    ‘the cataclysm at the end of the Cretaceous Period’
    • ‘Meanwhile, across the globe, there are thousands of families like his: slowly rebuilding, trying to make sense of a natural cataclysm which changed their lives forever.’
    • ‘Many have noticed that poorer nations are more severely affected by natural cataclysms than developed nations.’
    • ‘These are not the victims of natural cataclysms, these are the victims of human greed for power, violence, stupidity, and of man's destructive impulses.’
    • ‘One writer described it as resembling a geological cataclysm.’
    • ‘I guess that every once in a while, we get a huge natural cataclysm to take the wind out of our sails, and to remind us of who's really in charge on this planet.’
    • ‘Astrophysicists have been trying to detect such ‘gravitational waves,’ but the ripples from all but the, most violent cataclysms in the universe are imperceptible.’
    • ‘This is true for many of us in the West who have been truly fortunate to not have experienced any cataclysms for awhile.’
    • ‘While, the countries of southeast Asia are counting the cost of the cataclysm, their economies are forecast to be further negatively impacted by the loss of tourism revenues.’
    • ‘The moon is made of the debris from the cosmic cataclysm.’
    • ‘In other recent asteroid collision news, the odds of a cataclysm caused by a asteroid striking the Earth have just been lowered.’
    • ‘Some people derived a great deal of excitement from predictions of the cataclysms that would herald the end times.’
    • ‘Bearing in mind that over 70 millennia have elapsed since the Toba cataclysm it would be no surprise, statistically speaking, if another super-eruption struck within the next hundred years.’
    • ‘Uranus and Neptune might have formed at about the time of the suspected cataclysm, and maybe they dragged Kuiper belt objects into collision courses with the other members of the solar system.’
    • ‘Nor does it take massive destruction or the organic cataclysm of advanced, systemic diseases, to fell us.’
    • ‘The Earth has suffered a massive cataclysm that has forced humanity to return to an incredibly primitive way of life.’
    • ‘In fact, their disappearance from the rocky strata was so abrupt that it signalled a cataclysm.’
    • ‘So it seemed wise, even prudent, to seek counsel from the animal kingdom; these multifarious species, many of which predate humankind and have survived cataclysms far worse than our present imaginings.’
    • ‘Thus, the ultimate question of a gradual decline of dinosaurs vs. a sudden cataclysm is almost intractable without a wealth of good data.’
    1. 1.1A sudden violent upheaval, especially in a political or social context.
      ‘the cataclysm of the First World War’
      • ‘It indicates that despite the political upheavals and cataclysms of the past decade, the core of military professionals, who constitute the nucleus of the Russian Armed Forces, has been preserved.’
      • ‘The country, he writes, has exceeded its ‘limit for political and socio-economic upheavals, cataclysms and radical reforms.’’
      • ‘He has never written a poem that addresses, passionately, or engages with, his own country's terrible political state, the cataclysms for centuries.’
      • ‘Apparently, during the time directly following the political cataclysm in the GDR, the churches were mainly perceived and appreciated as public institutions.’
      • ‘Since all subject matter shrinks to triviality when compared to the cataclysms of the Holocaust and the Gulag, it follows that a tragedy such as Macbeth is of limited relevance to our recent history.’
      • ‘The aesthetic revolutions of the 20th century, in painting, music and literature, reflected the galvanizing cataclysms of the times - the world wars, the Holocaust, the nuclear peril.’
      • ‘I imagine that the entire world except my tram, bus or train carriage was devastated in some cataclysm, leaving only these passengers to rebuild the world.’
      • ‘The ‘long nineteenth century’ begins and ends in a cataclysm of war and revolution.’
      • ‘Naturally, I suspect that all those taking part would have been perfectly horrified if anything like the drastic and negative economic cataclysms they spoke of with such relish actually happened to them.’
      • ‘The forecasts of the economists surveyed by the professor are unremarkable: they do not anticipate any great cataclysms of war, revolution, depression, technological breakthroughs, or ecological collapse.’
      • ‘The mother becomes a drifter, finally offering her life in a revolutionary cataclysm that takes place in a banana republic wholly given over to violence and nihilism.’
      • ‘A cataclysm may change our system again, but I do not think so.’
      • ‘Moreover, he doubts that it ever again will be - short of an economic cataclysm.’
      • ‘As the generation that had made or experienced the original cataclysm died away, historians began to appropriate it for analysis.’
      • ‘The reaction has been, at least in the media, as if a great cataclysm had swept the party.’
      • ‘Military revolutions are cataclysms that reshape governments and societies as well as militaries.’
      disaster, catastrophe, calamity, tragedy, act of God, devastation, crisis, holocaust, ruin, ruination, upheaval, convulsion, blow, shock, reverse, trouble, trial, tribulation
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Early 17th century (originally denoting the biblical Flood described in Genesis): from French cataclysme, via Latin from Greek kataklusmos ‘deluge’, from kata- ‘down’ + kluzein ‘to wash’.