Catastrophe



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.
Contemporary Examples

The Syrian catastrophe can’t resolve arguments about what happened 65 years ago.
Between Two Catastrophes: Look at Syria, and Question Everyone’s Stories about 1948 Gershom Gorenberg September 22, 2013

But for the one who was blindsided when the papers were served and had no intention of ever signing, D-day is a catastrophe.
No Place Like Home Maysoon Zayid May 14, 2013

State officials, military and aviation experts in both countries hurried to shift the blame for the catastrophe.
MH17 Black Box ‘Sent to Moscow for Investigation’ Anna Nemtsova July 16, 2014

The first Nakba, or catastrophe, was when Palestinians were displaced in 1948.
In Syria, Palestinian Refugees Made Refugees Again Matt Surrusco October 17, 2013

The catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide put the projected insured losses between $7 and $15 billion.
The Economic Losses from Superstorm Sandy Continue to Mount Matthew Zeitlin October 31, 2012

Historical Examples

Notwithstanding this catastrophe, the five guns opposed to the Revenge continued their fire, and kept it up to the last.
How Britannia Came to Rule the Waves W.H.G. Kingston

Had Mrs. Bines been above talking to low people, a catastrophe might have been averted.
The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson

Within he was sickened with the sense of a catastrophe; outside he remained calm and confident to the eye.
The Snow-Burner Henry Oyen

Such a journey seemed like a catastrophe in his calm existence.
The Dream Emile Zola

We are now to notice this further determining factor in catastrophe as it applied itself to Halifax.
Catastrophe and Social Change Samuel Henry Prince

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
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.

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  • Catastrophe-theory

    a theory, based on topology, for studying discontinuous processes and the mathematical models that describe them. noun a mathematical theory that classifies surfaces according to their form the popular application of this theory to the explanation of abruptly changing phenomena, as by the discontinuity of a line on the topmost fold of a folded surface […]

  • Catastrophic

    of the nature of a catastrophe, or disastrous event; calamitous: a catastrophic failure of the dam. Contemporary Examples Clean water is increasingly scarce, even as catastrophic floods are more common. Pakistan’s Impossible Year: Elections, Army Intrigue, and More Bruce Riedel December 28, 2012 In the real world, foreign policy often consists of helping to broker […]



  • Catastrophic reaction

    catastrophic reaction catastrophic reaction cat·a·stroph·ic reaction (kāt’ə-strŏf’ĭk) n. Disorganized behavior due to a severe shock or threatening situation with which the person cannot cope.

  • Catastrophical

    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 […]



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