Definition of catastrophic in English:



  • 1Involving or causing sudden great damage or suffering.

    ‘a catastrophic earthquake’
    • ‘Working together as a team, the three were able to quickly extinguish the fire and prevent further potentially catastrophic damage until fire trucks could respond to the aircraft.’
    • ‘Tonight those winds are picking up in the Mexican resort town of Cancun, which could suffer catastrophic damage from this powerful storm.’
    • ‘By the early nineties, the damage was inescapable and catastrophic.’
    • ‘But in 1950 and 1966 it suffered two more catastrophic earthquakes.’
    • ‘His life takes a sudden twist when a strong earthquake and aftershocks cause catastrophic damage to the subway system, trapping a train and its handful of passengers in harm's way.’
    • ‘Based on the recent evidence, we can estimate that the chances of an asteroid doing catastrophic damage in the next century are approximately one in 5000.’
    • ‘‘It's capable of causing catastrophic damage but, of course, what we're really worried about is the loss of lives,’ he added.’
    • ‘The worst storm, a Category 5, has winds greater than 155 mph and can cause catastrophic damage.’
    • ‘The catastrophic damage resulting from the 1906 earthquake proved to be the springboard for a century of advances in the understanding and science of earthquakes.’
    • ‘Officials say the hurricane could cause catastrophic damage.’
    • ‘But clearly, there are human factors behind the extensive damage caused by catastrophic storms.’
    • ‘But sooner or later, a large object will threaten to hit the earth-moon system causing catastrophic damage.’
    • ‘The upper plate moves seaward, and a massive tsunami can be produced along with catastrophic destruction from earthquake shaking.’
    • ‘The fact is that disasters come in a thousand different shapes and sizes, and they don't have to all be catastrophic to do significant damage.’
    • ‘The magnitude of the natural disaster that the Indian Ocean rim countries suffered from the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami is said to be the worst in living memory.’
    • ‘The catastrophic plague losses of the Black Death helped fuel an obsession with the afterlife and to popularize chantries.’
    • ‘Forecasters are warning that a hurricane making landfall at or near New York City could cause catastrophic damage in the U.S.'s largest urban center.’
    • ‘It is a huge pandemic that's affecting the whole world and will, unless it's stemmed in some way or other, it's going to have catastrophic consequences for the economy of the world.’
    • ‘The damage, described as catastrophic, caused failure to all of the networks which make up telecommunication infrastructure on the island.’
    • ‘For years scientists and engineers have warned that a major hurricane could inflict catastrophic damage on the city.’
    destructive, ruinous, disastrous, calamitous, cataclysmic
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    1. 1.1 Involving a sudden and large-scale alteration in the state of something.
      ‘the body undergoes catastrophic collapse toward the state of a black hole’
      • ‘In an instant, an avalanche of electrons is rolling over the surface in a catastrophic flashover.’
      • ‘For the big stars (at least 8 times more massive than the Sun), this collapse is catastrophic.’
      • ‘Intravenous fluid loading before, during, and after rescue may protect against a catastrophic fall in blood pressure that can follow sudden release after prolonged entrapment.’
      • ‘An abrupt and catastrophic rise of tens of degrees was conceivable, Brooks wrote, ‘perhaps in the course of a single season.’’
      • ‘In the enormous densities of the early moments of the Big Bang the result would have been a catastrophic annihilation of matter and antimatter into radiation.’
      disastrous, calamitous, tragic, devastating, ruinous, terrible, violent, awful
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    2. 1.2 Relating to geological catastrophism.
      • ‘A number of contrasting geological processes can produce circular structures, ranging from catastrophic gas expulsion to form pockmark craters to meteorite impacts.’
      • ‘Similarly, Darwin also describes the formations of rocks and minerals from the catastrophic effects of dynamic geological periods.’
      • ‘In contrast, the mineralized zones, above the topography created by the pre-mineralization igneous rocks, were not affected by this catastrophic sedimentation.’
      • ‘Any sharp changes in the temperature proxy would then be caused by catastrophic interglacial climate oscillations.’
      • ‘These sandstone monuments display evidence of large-scale catastrophic deposition and immense watery erosion.’
  • 2Extremely unfortunate or unsuccessful.

    ‘catastrophic mismanagement of the economy’
    • ‘While fireworks were the cause of any injuries last Halloween, Gardaí are adamant that the crackers can cause catastrophic damage to children and adults alike.’
    • ‘Through them, he learns about the history of apartheid and the catastrophic effect it had on the lives of black South Africans.’
    • ‘As a result of the aircrew's actions, no injuries were suffered while preventing potentially catastrophic damage to a valuable combat asset.’
    • ‘You built your whole life around these relationships, it's no wonder that the damage is so catastrophic for you.’
    • ‘More than twenty years after Rampton's landmark report, years of failure to educate Black children have been catastrophic for those young people and their communities.’
    • ‘However, for the unfortunate few that do end up in this situation, the damage can be catastrophic: physically, mentally and financially.’
    • ‘This case, and the handling of it by some of the Met's most senior officers, has done potentially catastrophic damage to the police's reputation for even the most basic level of competence.’
    • ‘The institutionalization of welfare was catastrophic because of the extremely high rates of mortality that typically characterized these asylums.’
    • ‘Music fans have been warned to turn down or switch off their iPods amid fears the craze for MP3 players is storing up catastrophic and irreversible hearing damage for a generation.’
    • ‘These men died because of the catastrophic consequences of a dangerous social phenomenon.’
    • ‘Those living in the most economically deprived areas receive the worst care and suffer catastrophic economic consequences from their illness.’
    • ‘In five years time, will I have forgotten how gut-wrenchingly awful catastrophic data loss feels?’
    • ‘In no other area of the housing market has the intervention of government been so pronounced, so unsuccessful in its implementation, and so catastrophic in its effect.’
    • ‘The nomination, unfortunately, was followed by a truly catastrophic general election campaign in which he won only six states.’
    disastrous, calamitous, cataclysmic, ruinous, tragic, fatal, dire, awful, terrible, dreadful, black, woeful, grievous, lamentable, miserable, unfortunate
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