catastrophe: Meaning and Definition of


Pronunciation: (ku-tas'tru-fē), [key]
— n.
  1. a sudden and widespread disaster: the catastrophe of war.
  2. any misfortune, mishap, or failure; fiasco: The play was so poor our whole evening was a catastrophe.
  3. a final event or conclusion, usually an unfortunate one; a disastrous end: the great catastrophe of the Old South at Appomattox.
  4. (in a drama) the point at which the circumstances overcome the central motive, introducing the close or conclusion; dénouement. Cf. catastasis, epitasis, protasis.
  5. a sudden, violent disturbance, esp. of a part of the surface of the earth; cataclysm.
  6. Also calledany of the mathematical functions that describe the discontinuities that are treated in catastrophe theory.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.
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