AskDefine | Define cataclysm

Dictionary Definition



1 a sudden violent change in the earth's surface [syn: catastrophe]
2 an event resulting in great loss and misfortune; "the whole city was affected by the irremediable calamity"; "the earthquake was a disaster" [syn: calamity, catastrophe, disaster, tragedy]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • /ˈkætəˌklɪzm̩/


cataclysme, from Latinized Greek cataclysmos, from sc=polytonic, from sc=polytonic, from sc=polytonic + sc=polytonic.


  1. A sudden, violent event.
  2. A sudden and violent change in the earth's crust.
  3. A great flood.

Derived terms


A sudden, violent event
A sudden and violent change in the earth's crust
A great flood

Extensive Definition

The cataclysm is the Greek expression for the Biblical Great Flood of Noah, from the Greek kataklysmos, to 'wash down' ('kluzein' wash - 'kata' down'). Erudite Bible studies drew it into the English language in 1633 and it has also been used to describe other biblical events such as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah or The tenth plague of Egypt. The modern usage of cataclysm is mostly confined to geological phenomena of high significance such as the destruction of Pompeii, the Tunguska event, 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake or the Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 collision with Jupiter.

See also

cataclysm in German: Kataklysmus
cataclysm in Dutch: Cataclysme
cataclysm in Russian: Катаклизм
cataclysm in Serbo-Croatian: Kataklizma
cataclysm in Finnish: Kataklysmi

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

accident, alluvion, alluvium, apoplexy, bloodless revolution, blow, bouleversement, breakdown, breaking up, breakup, calamity, casualty, cataract, catastrophe, cave, cave-in, clean slate, clean sweep, climax, collapse, collision, computer revolution, contretemps, convulsion, counterrevolution, crack-up, crash, debacle, deluge, diastrophism, disaster, engulfment, fit, flood, flooding, grief, ill hap, inundation, misadventure, mischance, misfortune, mishap, nasty blow, overflow, overflowing, overrunning, overthrow, overturn, palace revolution, paroxysm, pileup, pour, quake, radical change, revolt, revolution, revolutionary war, revulsion, shipwreck, shock, smash, smashup, spasm, spate, spill, spillage, staggering blow, striking alteration, stroke, submersion, subversion, sweeping change, tabula rasa, technological revolution, temblor, the Deluge, the Flood, tidal wave, torrent, total change, total loss, tragedy, transilience, tsunami, upheaval, upset, violent change, washout, whelming, wrack, wreck
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