Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An occurrence causing widespread destruction and distress; a catastrophe.
  • n. A grave misfortune.
  • n. Informal A total failure: The dinner party was a disaster.
  • n. Obsolete An evil influence of a star or planet.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An unexpected natural or man-made catastrophe of substantial extent causing significant physical damage or destruction, loss of life or sometimes permanent change to the natural environment.
  • n. An unforeseen event causing great loss, upset or unpleasantness of whatever kind.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An unpropitious or baleful aspect of a planet or star; malevolent influence of a heavenly body; hence, an ill portent.
  • n. An adverse or unfortunate event, esp. a sudden and extraordinary misfortune; a calamity; a serious mishap.
  • transitive v. To blast by the influence of a baleful star.
  • transitive v. To bring harm upon; to injure.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To blast by the stroke of an unlucky planet. Spenser.
  • To injure; afflict.
  • To blemish; disfigure.
  • n. . An unfavorable aspect of a star or planet; an ill portent; a blast or stroke of an unfavorable planet.
  • n. Misfortune; mishap; calamity; any unfortunate event; especially, a sudden or great misfortune: a word used with much latitude, but most appropriately for some unforeseen event of a very distressing or overwhelming nature.
  • n. Synonyms Calamity, Catastrophe, etc. (see misfortune); blow, stroke, reverse.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an event resulting in great loss and misfortune
  • n. a state of extreme (usually irremediable) ruin and misfortune
  • n. an act that has disastrous consequences

Etymologies

French désastre, from Italian disastro : dis-, pejorative pref. (from Latin dis-; see dis-) + astro, star (from Latin astrum, from Greek astron; see ster-3 in Indo-European roots).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle French desastre, from Italian disastro, from dis- + astro ("star"), from Latin astrum ("star"), from Ancient Greek ἄστρον (astron, "star"), from Proto-Indo-European *h₂stḗr. (Wiktionary)

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