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catastrophe

[kuh-tas-truh-fee] /kəˈtæs trə fi/
noun
1.
a sudden and widespread disaster:
the catastrophe of war.
2.
any misfortune, mishap, or failure; fiasco:
The play was so poor our whole evening was a catastrophe.
3.
a final event or conclusion, usually an unfortunate one; a disastrous end:
the great catastrophe of the Old South at Appomattox.
4.
(in a drama) the point at which the circumstances overcome the central motive, introducing the close or conclusion; dénouement.
5.
Geology. a sudden, violent disturbance, especially of a part of the surface of the earth; cataclysm.
6.
Also called catastrophe function. Mathematics. any of the mathematical functions that describe the discontinuities that are treated in catastrophe theory.
Origin
1570-1580
1570-80; < Greek katastrophḗ an overturning, akin to katastréphein to overturn. See cata-, strophe
Related forms
catastrophic
[kat-uh-strof-ik] /ˌkæt əˈstrɒf ɪk/ (Show IPA),
catastrophical, catastrophal, adjective
supercatastrophe, noun
Synonyms
1. misfortune, calamity. 1, 3. See disaster.
Antonyms
1, 3. triumph.

catastrophic

[kat-uh-strof-ik] /ˌkæt əˈstrɒf ɪk/
adjective
1.
of the nature of a catastrophe, or disastrous event; calamitous:
a catastrophic failure of the dam.
Sometimes, catastrophical, catastrophal [kuh-tas-truh-fuh l] /kəˈtæs trə fəl/ (Show IPA).
Related forms
catastrophically, adverb
noncatastrophic, adjective
noncatastrophically, adverb
supercatastrophic, adjective
uncatastrophic, adjective
uncatastrophically, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for catastrophical

catastrophe

/kəˈtæstrəfɪ/
noun
1.
a sudden, extensive, or notable disaster or misfortune
2.
the denouement of a play, esp a classical tragedy
3.
a final decisive event, usually causing a disastrous end
4.
Also called cataclysm. any sudden and violent change in the earth's surface caused by flooding, earthquake, or some other rapid process
Derived Forms
catastrophic (ˌkætəˈstrɒfɪk) adjective
catastrophically, adverb
Word Origin
C16: from Greek katastrophē, from katastrephein to overturn, from strephein to turn
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for catastrophical
catastrophe
1540, "reversal of what is expected" (especially a fatal turning point in a drama), from Gk. katastrephein "to overturn," from kata "down" + strephein "turn" (see strophe). Extension to "sudden disaster" is first recorded 1748.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for catastrophical

catastrophe

in literature, the final action that completes the unraveling of the plot in a play, especially in a tragedy. Catastrophe is a synonym of denouement. The term is sometimes applied to a similar action in a novel or story.

Learn more about catastrophe with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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