Definition of catastrophe in English:

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Pronunciation: /kəˈtastrəfi/


1An event causing great and usually sudden damage or suffering; a disaster: an environmental catastrophe [mass noun]: inaction will only bring us closer to catastrophe
More example sentences
  • 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.
disaster, calamity, cataclysm, crisis, holocaust, ruin, ruination, tragedy, blow, shock;
adversity, blight, trouble, trial, tribulation, mishap, misfortune, mischance, misadventure, accident, failure, reverse, woe, affliction, distress
informal meltdown, whammy
British informal car crash
archaic bale
Scottish archaic mishanter
1.1Something very unfortunate or unsuccessful: the tax would be a catastrophe for the industry
More example sentences
  • 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.
2The denouement of a drama, especially a classical tragedy.
Example sentences
  • 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').

Words that rhyme with catastrophe

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