Definition of disaster in English:



  • 1A sudden event, such as an accident or a natural catastrophe, that causes great damage or loss of life.

    ‘159 people died in the disaster’
    ‘disaster struck within minutes of takeoff’
    • ‘In 1957 a train disaster affected the lives of many people who lived in south London and Kent.’
    • ‘You know, we just don't cope with disasters on this scale.’
    • ‘The horrific devastation caused by this tsunami may be the worst natural disaster in recent history.’
    • ‘Our topic was inspired by the extensive news coverage of the space shuttle disaster.’
    • ‘Does it take a disaster of these proportions to convince us all to give so freely?’
    • ‘Children are those who are most prone to disasters like earthquake, fire and flood.’
    • ‘Pete has a meditation on the space shuttle disaster.’
    • ‘Hurricane Katrina will be the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history by a factor of five.’
    • ‘A disaster of this magnitude is one of those defining moments in local television.’
    • ‘The pilots managed to avert a total disaster by using the engine's throttles to steer the plane.’
    • ‘But clearly, a disaster of a proportion he had never had to deal with was unfolding.’
    • ‘And President Bush is offering U.S. aid and condolences to people affected by the Asian tsunami disaster.’
    • ‘A disaster on the scale of 9/11 or hurricane Katrina disturbs all certainties.’
    • ‘Similar ecological disasters have occurred in other parts of the world too.’
    • ‘"We did have a disaster recovery plan in place, " Bob says.’
    • ‘Facing a disaster of such magnitude, understandably the government was unprepared and initially lost touch.’
    • ‘Whenever a major disaster strikes, the public is confronted with all sorts of unpleasantness.’
    • ‘Technically, the rescued worms were not the worms that survived the shuttle disaster.’
    • ‘The Hatfield rail disaster occurred while Hall was working on his adaptation, and it shows.’
    • ‘When Mozambique was struck by a flood disaster in 1999, over a million people lost their homes.’
    catastrophe, calamity, cataclysm, tragedy, act of god, holocaust
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    1. 1.1[as modifier]Denoting a genre of films that use natural or accidental catastrophe as the mainspring of plot and setting.
      ‘a disaster movie’
      • ‘This disc is worth at least a rental, and if you're a fan of disaster type flicks, a purchase.’
      • ‘I became frustrated that the only comparisons and references my brain threw up were of disaster movies.’
      • ‘Not being a connoisseur of disaster movies, I'll leave it to others to decide if it's a good film.’
      • ‘Well, sure, cliched and formulaic is pretty standard for disaster movies generally.’
      • ‘Perhaps it was a mistake for 20th Century Fox to invite a group of scientists to the preview of its new disaster movie.’
      • ‘It did seem at times like a disaster movie we'd been through before.’
      • ‘It felt like trespassing onto the film set of a disaster movie.’
      • ‘It is a situation that outdoes any Hollywood disaster movie script in drama, surreality, and potential horror.’
      • ‘If you like cheesy disaster movies and idealistic costume drama, this is the hybrid for you!’
      • ‘At that time, we were doing Goddard and Fellini at film school and we weren't into Irvin Allen's disaster films.’
      • ‘Like the best disaster film that's never been made, but no hero to give us the happy ending.’
      • ‘We are used to Hollywood disaster movies, but this has been far worse, for real.’
      • ‘I feel like a bit part player in a cheesy American disaster movie, only this time Bruce Willis didn't show up.’
      • ‘It's only a matter of time before we're treated to a World Trade Center disaster film.’
      • ‘Until last Sunday, such incidents were largely confined to Hollywood disaster movies.’
      • ‘Like the moment in seminal disaster movie Twister when the tornado vanishes in a whisper, the fight was over.’
      • ‘I felt like I was in some cheesy disaster movie, debating who got to sacrifice their life for the safety of the others.’
      • ‘But there is a real life disaster movie in the offing - so we better start acting.’
      • ‘He is one of the most talented figures in the history of matte painting and a central figure in the disaster films of the 70s.’
      • ‘It starts where such disaster movies always should: what if you woke up one day and everyone else had gone?’
    2. 1.2An event or fact that has unfortunate consequences.
      ‘a string of personal disasters’
      [mass noun] ‘reduced legal aid could spell financial disaster’
      • ‘Since then I've seen two financial disasters and a terrible fire.’
      • ‘For the less strong, it can be a torment and a prelude to personal disaster.’
      • ‘After a decade marked by financial disasters and bank failures, the era of unquestioned profit-making would appear to be at an end.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, data disasters are more likely to occur on systems relying on older or used hardware.’
      • ‘National members face a disaster, in fact, as they try to explain what it is they intend to do.’
      • ‘One type would work in a coaching role and the other act as a referee in the firm to prevent Scottish businesses from suffering Enron style disasters.’
      • ‘Will the new members fall in line, or will they team up with France and Spain to maintain these hideous financial disasters?’
      • ‘Fears may be exaggerated, but unless companies are completely open, they face potential PR disasters ahead.’
      • ‘The university had a public relations disaster on its hands.’
      • ‘The suite contains the computers and equipment necessary to help a small business function in the event of a company disaster.’
      • ‘It was recognised as such by the Iraqi people, but the subsequent handling of events was a disaster.’
      • ‘Critics argue it was only Lottery money and government cash that prevented the Games from being a financial disaster.’
      • ‘Nor is the bank rushing blindly into disaster in the event of a bid succeeding.’
      • ‘The financial disasters are directly traceable to the cultural and ideological catastrophes which these films represent.’
      • ‘I know about previous squabbles and financial disasters that affected the club.’
      • ‘So lets forget my own personal disasters and get on with the business at hand, that is voting on tomorrows story, start voting now.’
      • ‘But a series of personal disasters and financial ruin triggered a mental disorder that was to turn the father of two into a killer.’
      • ‘But as his career took off, the personal disasters continued to mount.’
      • ‘It has got me into trouble in the past and I'm never far away from having mini financial disasters.’
      • ‘Three of the properties so far have been financial disasters.’
    3. 1.3informal A person, act, or thing that is a failure.
      ‘my perm is a total disaster’
      • ‘And it was fine for all the media celebs to go to a ball game but it was a total disaster for Kerry to do so.’
      • ‘Maize, a relatively new crop, is looking like a total disaster, according to Mr Dempsey.’
      • ‘India's reply was a total disaster, with wickets falling too rapidly due to run-outs.’
      • ‘Because as we all know, this Budget has been a total disaster for the Labour Government.’
      • ‘But how else can I understand the fact that my panel session was a total disaster?’
      • ‘He, of course, is far worse, a disaster in the making.’
      • ‘I was a total disaster in the shop and I realised that I was going to have to do something else.’
      • ‘Would there be any way of getting rid of them if they were a total disaster?’
      • ‘Your mayoralty has been from start ' till now a disaster in the making.’
      • ‘Last time I attempted the gym it was a total disaster.’
      • ‘On Saturday, I picked up some cool rocket balloons for the kids which turned out to be a total disaster.’
      • ‘It might be that the first idea was a total disaster and if so drop it and move on.’
      • ‘They will have to believe that they do because it's their last chance of ensuring that their season is not a total disaster.’
      • ‘He's had a very hard time. His current situation is a total disaster.’
      • ‘That dinner turned into a total disaster and for one whole month, she was in grief.’
      • ‘This is a very sad collection of songs put together, but what was a second rate band in their heyday is a total disaster today.’
      • ‘Still, he thought watching mummy play hopscotch was hilarious, so it wasn't a total disaster.’
      • ‘I went on my first date in 7 years 2 weeks ago - what a total, unmitigated disaster!’
      failure, fiasco, catastrophe, mess, debacle
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Late 16th century: from Italian disastro ill-starred event from dis- (expressing negation) + astro star (from Latin astrum).