Catastrophic refers to something that is extremely disastrous, devastating, or involving a sudden and complete failure or collapse. It describes an event or situation that has severe and far-reaching negative consequences.


US English

UK English

Part of Speech



Disastrous, devastating, calamitous, tragic, ruinous, cataclysmic, destructive, apocalyptic, overwhelming.


Mild, insignificant, minor, trivial, unimportant, manageable.

Word Forms

Part of Speech Words
Noun None
Verb None
Adjective catastrophic
Adverb catastrophically

Example Sentences

  • The hurricane caused a catastrophic destruction, leaving entire cities in ruins and countless lives shattered.

  • The failed rocket launch resulted in a catastrophic explosion, leading to a tragic loss of lives and extensive damage to the launch site.

  • The company’s decision to ignore safety regulations had catastrophic consequences, resulting in a massive industrial accident and multiple fatalities.

  • The collapse of the bridge during rush hour traffic caused a catastrophic traffic jam, stranding commuters for hours and disrupting the entire city’s transportation system.


The word “catastrophic” has its origins in the Greek language. It is derived from the Greek word “katastrophḗ,” which means “overturn” or “sudden turn.” The word consists of the prefix “cata-” meaning “down” or “completely” and the root “strophḗ” meaning “turning.” This etymology of the word gives us insight into its usage and meaning.

“Catastrophic” is primarily used as an adjective to describe events or situations that involve extreme disaster or complete failure. The word conveys the sense of a sudden and overwhelming turn of events that lead to severe and irrevocable consequences. It suggests a level of seriousness and magnitude that is beyond regular or ordinary disasters.

The usage of “catastrophic” is often seen in contexts related to natural disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, or floods, when describing the immense destruction and loss these events can cause. It is also commonly used to describe accidents, incidents, or failures that have disastrous outcomes, such as a catastrophic failure of a system or a catastrophic stock market crash.

Due to its strong connotations, the usage of “catastrophic” is reserved for situations that have significant and far-reaching negative consequences, emphasizing the severity of the event or outcome. It is important to note that the word “catastrophic” is not used casually or lightly but is reserved for the most severe and devastating occurrences.

Overall, the word “catastrophic” traces its roots back to Greek and conveys a sense of complete disaster or failure. Its usage indicates events or situations that have significant and often irreversible negative consequences, emphasizing the severity and magnitude of the event or outcome.