Definition of apocalyptic in US English:



  • 1Describing or prophesying the complete destruction of the world.

    ‘the apocalyptic visions of ecologists’
    • ‘Nor is he given to apocalyptic prophecies.’
    • ‘It was composed and published in a crucial period of European apocalyptic anxiety and millennial anticipation.’
    • ‘Rather than see social events as holding spiritual significance in a prophetic way, they dismissed literal interpretations of apocalyptic prophecies.’
    • ‘His writing is apocalyptic in feel, describing a gritty futuristic world in which dream meets reality.’
    • ‘Wasn't this apocalyptic comment portentous with all the flooding and massive tidal waves around Thailand and the Indian Ocean?’
    • ‘Yet despite my dismissive attitude towards apocalyptic theories and prophesies, last year's Y2K version did somewhat discomfort me.’
    • ‘The rise of environmental politics since the late 1960s directly stimulated historical scholarship, and gave the new environmental history an occasionally apocalyptic and moralistic tone.’
    • ‘His apocalyptic vision looks more like prophecy than fiction.’
    • ‘The book's second half focuses on the ethics of prophetic and apocalyptic literature.’
    • ‘Indeed, the current American spate of interest in apocalyptic prophecy stems precisely from attempts to draw meaning from complex and difficult imagery.’
    • ‘Climate change is the environmental fear that provokes the greatest degree of apocalyptic prophesy.’
    • ‘Rejecting it would mean moving toward strike action, which union leaders are describing in apocalyptic tones.’
    • ‘Furthermore, news channels would either interview astrologers or fortune tellers and ask them to give apocalyptic and catastrophic predictions that would frighten people.’
    • ‘His work was seminal for understanding the role and importance of apocalyptic literature and its interpretations in the lives of early seventeenth-century Puritans.’
    • ‘It also has an apocalyptic vision of the future.’
    • ‘I'm not sure the apocalyptic vision is helpful.’
    • ‘But as apocalyptic literature has come in for criticism, so has utopian-by anti-utopians, often satirists.’
    • ‘Even for those who did not accept these apocalyptic scenarios, emancipation portended a chaotic and terrifying new world.’
    • ‘Despairing, however, that he would only be remembered as a political satirist and not a genuine artist in his own right, he changed his subject matter to romantic landscapes or apocalyptic visions of the future.’
    • ‘It was written during the terrifying times of the Cuban missile crisis, but it depicts apocalyptic visions rather than specific details.’
    prophetic, predictive, visionary
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    1. 1.1 Resembling the end of the world; momentous or catastrophic.
      ‘the struggle between the two countries is assuming apocalyptic proportions’
      • ‘All Western democracies are now acutely aware of the apocalyptic consequences of a well-orchestrated attack on high-profile facilities.’
      • ‘Inside the ring, he is a gladiator of apocalyptic proportions.’
      • ‘The aim is to reach back into history to grab on to things because this apocalyptic event has happened.’
      • ‘If the war happens then the consequences will be more than dire, they will be apocalyptic.’
      • ‘Again, the only real cure to this neurosis, which is apparently taking on apocalyptic proportions, would be for him to feel good about himself.’
      • ‘These were films made in the aftermath of the apocalyptic experiences of World War I which had a decisive effect on a new generation of artists in Germany.’
      • ‘Galactica makes multiple references to the day in the form of apocalyptic destruction, burnt fire-fighters and the grotesque immediacy of bodies tumbling into space.’
      • ‘The army is ferrying in troops, but they are facing apocalyptic destruction, entire neighborhoods razed to the ground.’
      • ‘Its influences have pervaded the whole economy and the whole financial system, and its bursting may have apocalyptic consequences.’
      • ‘Such stylistic whimsy hardly seems appropriate to the solemn themes of apocalyptic war and nuclear disaster which consequently lose much of their weight and urgency.’
      • ‘Such an apocalyptic development would have consequences that, although largely unpredictable in their specifics, would be grave for the region and for the international system as a whole.’
      • ‘The army is ferrying in troops, but they're facing apocalyptic destruction, entire neighborhoods razed to the ground.’
      • ‘This report of the UK media awards describes a an apocalyptic scene, as scribes, put beyond use with alcohol, heckle and taunt their peers; standing on stools, booing the MC off the stage.’
      • ‘Maritain saw World War II as nothing less than an apocalyptic passage through unprecedented destruction.’
      • ‘Manichaean symbols and apocalyptic scenarios are bandied about with future consequences and rhetorical restraint thrown to the winds.’
      • ‘How can people like Tony Blair be blind to this massive risk of apocalyptic destruction and loss of freedom?’
      • ‘Do you not realise the serious catastrophic, apocalyptic implications if he is correct?’
      • ‘We have had a storm of apocalyptic proportions this morning, with gale force winds and torrential rain for hours.’
      • ‘The annihilation of Canada's natural resources can best be described as apocalyptic.’
      • ‘Those who prophesied apocalyptic social change faced great risks.’
      important, significant, epoch-making, historic, headline, fateful, portentous, critical, crucial, vital, life-and-death, decisive, pivotal, serious, grave, weighty, consequential, big, great, far-reaching, life-changing, of importance, of moment, of significance, of consequence
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    2. 1.2 Of or resembling the biblical Apocalypse.
      ‘apocalyptic imagery’
      • ‘The scribal community similarly took the destruction of Jerusalem and fit it into the apocalyptic narrative of the destruction and return of once and future cities.’
      • ‘The cover picture shows the apocalyptic moment when Albion rises from his rock and sees the vision of the land as Jerusalem, having subdued and reunited the Four Zoas.’
      • ‘It might also be seen as a prologue to the twentieth century's proliferation of apocalyptic literary imagery.’
      • ‘He suspects this support is based on a reading of Christian prophecy that requires an apocalyptic war in the Middle East as the precondition for Christ's return.’
      • ‘The other times I see him focusing on his artwork while attending the San Francisco Academy of Art and creating his war-torn, apocalyptic imagery that needs few words to explain.’
      • ‘For as long as organizations buy into, and feed, apocalyptic imagery that issues from Washington, other Christian points of view demand a hearing.’
      • ‘Again, the gospel's apocalyptic imagery denotes the end of an age and calls the people to a shared, wide-awake clarity of purpose.’
      • ‘This is the great long-awaited apocalyptic moment.’
      • ‘The closest the FBI gets to a motive for the smallpox attack is an apocalyptic Biblical passage left behind by the terrorist.’
      • ‘There is nothing, in short, inherently Jewish or Christian or Muslim about apocalyptic imagery.’
      • ‘The anthemic title track was emblematic of its overall invention, set against an apocalyptic backdrop; ice ages, zombies of death, nuclear errors.’
      • ‘I love the way that, in the apocalyptic destruction of Genesis, Nimoy sidesteps the action for the briefest second to show us the beauty of the last sunset on the dying world.’
      • ‘This might well be related to the imagery of God depicted in apocalyptic accounts.’
      • ‘Our analysis of the larger culture was characterized by the kind of apocalyptic imagery made popular by the nineteenth-century evangelist Dwight L. Moody.’
      • ‘As a sort of exclamation point, Jesus then uses the apocalyptic imagery we have today.’


Early 17th century (as a noun denoting the writer of the Apocalypse, St John): from Greek apokaluptikos, from apokaluptein ‘uncover’ (see apocalypse).