- of the nature of a catastrophe, or disastrous event; calamitous: a catastrophic failure of the dam.
- 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.
- 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
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.