What does disaster mean?

Definitions for disaster
dɪˈzæs tər, -ˈzɑ stərdis·as·ter

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word disaster.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. catastrophe, disasternoun

    a state of extreme (usually irremediable) ruin and misfortune

    "lack of funds has resulted in a catastrophe for our school system"; "his policies were a disaster"

  2. calamity, catastrophe, disaster, tragedy, cataclysmnoun

    an event resulting in great loss and misfortune

    "the whole city was affected by the irremediable calamity"; "the earthquake was a disaster"

  3. disasternoun

    an act that has disastrous consequences


  1. disasternoun

    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.

  2. disasternoun

    An unforeseen event causing great loss, upset or unpleasantness of whatever kind.

  3. Etymology: From Italian disastro, disaster; originally meaning "unfavourable to one's stars", from dis-, bad (compare dys-), + astro, star, celestial body, from Latin astrum, from Greek astron. The word disaster is derived from Middle French désastre and that from Old Italian disastro, which in turn comes from the Greek pejorative prefix δυσ-, (dus-) "bad" + ἀστήρ (aster), "star". The root of the word disaster ("bad star" in Greek) comes from an astrological theme in which the ancients used to refer to the destruction or deconstruction of a star as a disaster.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. DISASTERnoun

    Etymology: desastre, French.

    Stars shone with trains of fire, dews of blood fall;
    Disasters veil’d the sun; and the moist star,
    Upon whose influence Neptune’s empire stands,
    Was sick almost to doomsday with eclipse. William Shakespeare, Hamlet.

    This day black omens threat the brightest fair,
    That e’er deserv’d a watchful spirit’s care,
    Some dire disaster, or by force or slight;
    But what, or where, the fates have wrapt in night. Alexander Pope.

  2. To Disasterverb

    Etymology: from the noun.

    Ah, chaste bed of mine, said she, which never heretofore couldst accuse me of one defiled thought, how canst thou now receive that disastered changling? Philip Sidney, b. ii.

    These are the holes where eyes should be, which pitifully disaster the cheeks. William Shakespeare, Anthony and Cleopatra.

    In his own fields, the swain
    Disaster’d stands. James Thomson, Winter, l. 280.


  1. Disaster

    A disaster is a serious problem occurring over a short or long period of time that causes widespread human, material, economic or environmental loss which exceeds the ability of the affected community or society to cope using its own resources. Disasters are routinely divided into either "natural disasters" caused by natural hazards or "human-instigated disasters" caused from anthropogenic hazards. However, in modern times, the divide between natural, human-made and human-accelerated disasters is difficult to draw.Examples of natural hazards include avalanches, flooding, cold waves and heat waves, droughts, earthquakes, cyclones, landslides, lightning, tsunamis, volcanic activity, wildfires, and winter precipitation. Examples of anthropogenic hazards include criminality, civil disorder, terrorism, war, industrial hazards, engineering hazards, power outages, fire, hazards caused by transportation, and environmental hazards. Developing countries suffer the greatest costs when a disaster hits – more than 95% of all deaths caused by hazards occur in developing countries, and losses due to natural hazards are 20 times greater (as a percentage of gross domestic product) in developing countries than in industrialized countries.


  1. disaster

    A disaster is a sudden, catastrophic event that seriously disrupts the functioning of a community or society and causes human, material, and economic or environmental losses that exceed the community's or society's ability to cope using its own resources. Such events can be natural, such as earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes, or man-made, such as wars, nuclear accidents, or terrorist attacks.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Disasternoun

    an unpropitious or baleful aspect of a planet or star; malevolent influence of a heavenly body; hence, an ill portent

  2. Disasternoun

    an adverse or unfortunate event, esp. a sudden and extraordinary misfortune; a calamity; a serious mishap

  3. Disasterverb

    to blast by the influence of a baleful star

  4. Disasterverb

    to bring harm upon; to injure


  1. Disaster

    A disaster is a natural or man-made hazard resulting in an event of substantial extent causing significant physical damage or destruction, loss of life, or drastic change to the environment. A disaster can be ostensively defined as any tragic event stemming from events such as earthquakes, floods, catastrophic accidents, fires, or explosions. It is a phenomenon that can cause damage to life and property and destroy the economic, social and cultural life of people. In contemporary academia, disasters are seen as the consequence of inappropriately managed risk. These risks are the product of a combination of both hazard/s and vulnerability. Hazards that strike in areas with low vulnerability will never become disasters, as is the case in uninhabited regions. Developing countries suffer the greatest costs when a disaster hits – more than 95 percent of all deaths caused by disasters occur in developing countries, and losses due to natural disasters are 20 times greater in developing countries than in industrialized countries.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Disaster

    diz-as′tėr, n. an adverse or unfortunate event: a great and sudden misfortune: calamity.—adj. Disas′trous, calamitous, ruinous: gloomy, foreboding disaster.—adv. Disas′trously. [O. Fr. desastre, des—L. dis, with evil sense, astre—L. astrum, a star, destiny.]

Matched Categories

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'disaster' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #3510

  2. Written Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'disaster' in Written Corpus Frequency: #3209

  3. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'disaster' in Nouns Frequency: #1292

Anagrams for disaster »

  1. asterids

  2. diasters

  3. disastre

  4. disrates

  5. Tardises

How to pronounce disaster?

How to say disaster in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of disaster in Chaldean Numerology is: 5

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of disaster in Pythagorean Numerology is: 5

Examples of disaster in a Sentence

  1. Bob Pinnegar:

    Flawed eviction moratoriums leave renters with insurmountable debt and housing providers holding the bag as our nation's housing affordability crisis spirals into a housing affordability disaster.

  2. Bill Eastland:

    Mitt Romney. He didn't run his campaign right against Obama. He flubbed it. Another Romney candidacy would be a complete disaster, and I don't think he'll even get there.

  3. Carlos Smith:

    The message has already been received by the 18,000 undocumented persons in Polk County, this is not the message we need to be sending out with a disaster upon us.

  4. Carlos Castillo:

    Social distancing and other CDC guidance to keep you safe from COVID-19 may impact the disaster preparedness plan you had in place, including what is in your go-kit, evacuation routes, shelters and more.

  5. Oceana Vice President Jacqueline Savitz:

    The only way to truly ensure there will never be another disaster of the magnitude of Deepwater Horizon is to stop drilling offshore.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for disaster

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

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"disaster." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 3 Mar. 2024. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/disaster>.

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