Definition of catastrophic in English:


Syllabification: cat·a·stroph·ic
Pronunciation: /ˌkadəˈsträfik


1Involving or causing sudden great damage or suffering: a catastrophic earthquake
More example sentences
  • His life takes a sudden twist when a strong earthquake and aftershocks cause catastrophic damage to the subway system, trapping a train and its handful of passengers in harm's way.
  • Tonight those winds are picking up in the Mexican resort town of Cancun, which could suffer catastrophic damage from this powerful storm.
  • The magnitude of the natural disaster that the Indian Ocean rim countries suffered from the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami is said to be the worst in living memory.
1.1Involving a sudden and large-scale alteration in the state of something: the body undergoes catastrophic collapse toward the state of a black hole
More example sentences
  • In the enormous densities of the early moments of the Big Bang the result would have been a catastrophic annihilation of matter and antimatter into radiation.
  • In an instant, an avalanche of electrons is rolling over the surface in a catastrophic flashover.
  • For the big stars (at least 8 times more massive than the Sun), this collapse is catastrophic.
1.2Of or relating to geological catastrophism.
More example sentences
  • Similarly, Darwin also describes the formations of rocks and minerals from the catastrophic effects of dynamic geological periods.
  • A number of contrasting geological processes can produce circular structures, ranging from catastrophic gas expulsion to form pockmark craters to meteorite impacts.
  • In contrast, the mineralized zones, above the topography created by the pre-mineralization igneous rocks, were not affected by this catastrophic sedimentation.
2Extremely unfortunate or unsuccessful: catastrophic mismanagement of the economy
More example sentences
  • The institutionalization of welfare was catastrophic because of the extremely high rates of mortality that typically characterized these asylums.
  • More than twenty years after Rampton's landmark report, years of failure to educate Black children have been catastrophic for those young people and their communities.
  • The nomination, unfortunately, was followed by a truly catastrophic general election campaign in which he won only six states.
disastrous, calamitous, cataclysmic, apocalyptic, ruinous, tragic, fatal, dire, awful, terrible, dreadful



Pronunciation: /-ik(ə)lē/
More example sentences
  • But those kind of arguments tend to be right until the moment arrives when they're suddenly wrong - really wrong, catastrophically wrong.
  • It is the essence of catastrophically bad thinking to insist on choosing one or the other.
  • The majority of us aren't heroic people who instantly know what to do when their life is catastrophically upturned, and flawlessly execute on that knowledge.

Definition of catastrophic in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day bimble
Pronunciation: ˈbɪmb(ə)l
walk or travel at a leisurely pace