Definitions

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

  • n. An event that brings terrible loss, lasting distress, or severe affliction; a disaster: A hurricane would be a calamity for this low-lying coastal region.
  • n. Dire distress resulting from loss or tragedy.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An event resulting in great loss.
  • n. The distress that results from some disaster.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Any great misfortune or cause of misery; -- generally applied to events or disasters which produce extensive evil, either to communities or individuals.
  • n. A state or time of distress or misfortune; misery.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Any great misfortune or cause of misery; in general, any event or disaster which produces extensive evils, as loss of crops, earthquakes, etc., but also applied to any misfortune which brings great distress upon a single person; misfortune; distress; adversity.
  • n. Synonyms Disaster, Catastrophe, etc. (see misfortune), hardship, adversity, affliction, blow, stroke.

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

  • n. an event resulting in great loss and misfortune

Etymologies

Middle English calamite, from Old French, from Latin calamitās.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Latin clāmāre ("to shout, proclaim, declare, cry out"); Latin calamitās ("loss, damage; disaster"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Happening now, Robert Gates officially taking charge of the Pentagon and the troubled war in Iraq with a swearing in ceremony -- he's warning that failure in Iraq would be what he called a calamity that would haunt the U.S. -- his words -- for decades.

    CNN Transcript Dec 18, 2006

  • A few pale figures were to be distinguished at the accustomed resort at the Tuileries; they wondered wherefore the islanders should approach their ill-fated city -- for in the excess of wretchedness, the sufferers always imagine, that their part of the calamity is the bitterest, as, when enduring intense pain, we would exchange the particular torture we writhe under, for any other which should visit a different part of the frame.

    III.4

  • This calamity is the more heavy, as it carries with it a great disappointment; for very near our habitation was a high wall, the sunny side of which was covered with the most delicious fruits; peaches, apricots, nectarines, &c. all just then ripening; and I thought of having such a feast with my children as I had never enjoyed in my life.

    The Bird and Insects' Post-Office

  • The prediction of this calamity is here given very largely, and in lively expressions, which one would think should have awakened and affected the most stupid.

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume IV (Isaiah to Malachi)

  • Judge will speedily take vengeance; the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume VI (Acts to Revelation)

  • The hidden hand behind this unsanitary calamity is the US government.

    Coyote Blog » Blog Archive » Unfortunately, I Have Lately Had Cause to Lament the Same Thing

  • “An earth-shattering calamity is about to happen,” he writes.

    David Wilkerson again predicts catastrophe

  • A calamity is the shortage of such utensils as sweepers, brooms, brushes and rags for cleaning.

    Red Cross Report

  • When deviant behaviour exists with the cowardly behaviour of leaders, calamity is the next step.

    Why front-line police officers are glad about Dizaei « POLICE INSPECTOR BLOG

  • This calamity is exactly what happened to my Uncle Joseph, who was removed from my grandparents when he was a toddler and sent to the Texas State School because he had begun acting out in rage at his inability to communicate with others.

    Archive 2009-06-01

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • I can't help but be slightly amused whenever I hear this word, even when it's used in the context of horrible disasters. I had been having trouble figuring out why, but I think I've got it: the first place I heard it was probably the television show Tiny Toon Adventures, on which there was a character called "Calamity Coyote."

    It's amazing how, at least for me, my first exposure to a word can permanently color my perception of it.

    May 4, 2010