disaster

[dih-zas-ter, -zah-ster]
noun
1.
a calamitous event, especially one occurring suddenly and causing great loss of life, damage, or hardship, as a flood, airplane crash, or business failure.
2.
Obsolete. an unfavorable aspect of a star or planet.

Origin:
1585–95; < Middle French desastre < Italian disastro, equivalent to dis- dis-1 + astro star < Latin astrum < Greek ástron

predisaster, noun


1. mischance, misfortune, misadventure, mishap, accident, blow, reverse, adversity, affliction. Disaster, calamity, catastrophe, cataclysm refer to adverse happenings often occurring suddenly and unexpectedly. A disaster may be caused by carelessness, negligence, bad judgment, or the like, or by natural forces, as a hurricane or flood: a railroad disaster. Calamity suggests great affliction, either personal or general; the emphasis is on the grief or sorrow caused: the calamity of losing a child. Catastrophe refers especially to the tragic outcome of a personal or public situation; the emphasis is on the destruction or irreplaceable loss: the catastrophe of a defeat in battle. Cataclysm physically an earth-shaking change, refers to a personal or public upheaval of unparalleled violence: a cataclysm that turned his life in a new direction.
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World English Dictionary
disaster (dɪˈzɑːstə)
 
n
1.  an occurrence that causes great distress or destruction
2.  a thing, project, etc, that fails or has been ruined
 
[C16 (originally in the sense: malevolent astral influence): from Italian disastro, from dis- (pejorative) + astro star, from Latin astrum, from Greek astron]
 
dis'astrous
 
adj

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

disaster
1580, from M.Fr. desastre (1564), from It. disastro "ill-starred," from dis- "away, without" + astro "star, planet," from L. astrum, from Gk. astron (see star). The sense is astrological, of a calamity blamed on an unfavorable position of a planet.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
When it comes to natural disasters, every region has its crosses to bear.
We must therefore cure ourselves of the vanity which has caused us so many
  disasters.
Fortune always leaves some door open in disasters whereby to come at a remedy.
It was an almost unheard-of thing that the general disasters of the state
  should disarrange his life.
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