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From French cataclysme, from Latin cataclysmus, from Ancient Greek κατακλυσμός (kataklusmós, deluge, flood), from κατακλύζω (kataklúzō, to dash over, flood, deluge, inundate), from κατά (katá, downwards, towards) + κλύζω (klúzō, to wash off, to wash away, to dash over).


  • IPA(key): /ˈkætəˌklɪzm̩/
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cataclysm (plural cataclysms)

  1. A sudden, violent event.
    • 2007, Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine, Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt, →ISBN, page 427:
      While the disaster capitalism complex does not deliberately scheme to create cataclysms on which it feeds (though Iraq may be a notable exception), there is plenty of evidence that its component industries work very hard indeed to make that current disastrous trends continue unchallenged.
  2. (geology) A sudden and violent change in the earth's crust.
  3. A great flood.

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