Key Difference – Catastrophe vs Disaster
Catastrophe and disaster are two words that basically have the same meaning. Although both these words have the same definitions, there is a difference between catastrophe and disaster in terms of usage. Catastrophe is sometimes used to refer to an event that has more destructive, severe and long lasting effects than a disaster. This distinction in usage can be identified as the key difference between catastrophe and disaster. However, this difference can only be observed in certain contexts.
What Does Disaster Mean?
A disaster is a sudden event that brings great loss and destruction, i.e., loss of lives and destruction of property. A railroad accident, shipwreck, an earth slip, and failure of an enterprise are some examples of disasters. Disaster is defined by the Merriam-Webster online dictionary as “a sudden calamitous event bringing great damage, loss, or destruction” and by the Oxford dictionary as “a sudden accident or a natural catastrophe that causes great damage or loss of life”. However, the Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Synonyms (1984) describes disaster as follows:
“A disaster is an unforeseen mischance or misadventure … which happens either through culpable lack of foresight or through adverse external agency and brings with it destruction or ruin”.
According to “Choose the Right Word: A Modern Guide to Synonyms” (1968), disaster can be used to describe both personal and public loss.
When compared with calamity, disaster refers to a relatively minor or less severe loss or destruction. The following example sentences will help you to understand the meaning of this word better.
The state appointed a special committee to investigate the collapse of this building and several other engineering disasters.
They launched a new program to make the people aware of possible natural disasters.
Nearly hundred people died in this disaster.
The government had a disaster recovery plan in place.
What Does Catastrophe Mean?
Catastrophe is a great and sudden calamity. It is defined by the Oxford dictionary as “an event causing great and usually sudden damage or suffering”. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “a momentous tragic event ranging from extreme misfortune to utter overthrow or ruin”.
The term catastrophe is derived from a Greek word and was first used in English to refer to the final event in a tragedy. Thus, this word came to be associated with unhappy endings and disastrous results. By the 18th century, it was used to describe devastating events such as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. But today, it is also used to describe events that are figuratively catastrophic. For example, ruined dinners, bad acting or movies, etc.
The whole party was a catastrophe – the host quarreled with the guests, the food was awful and the atmosphere was tensed.
Foreign aid was provided for the victims of this catastrophe.
This was the biggest natural catastrophe of the 19th century.
What is the difference between Catastrophe and Disaster?
Catastrophe: Catastrophe is a tragic event ranging from extreme misfortune to utter overthrow or ruin.
Disaster: A disaster is a sudden event that brings great loss and destruction.
Catastrophe: The term catastrophe is now used to describe any event with a disastrous end.
Disaster: The term disaster is more commonly used than catastrophe.
Catastrophe: Sometimes the term catastrophe implies an event that has more severe and long lasting negative effects than a disaster.
Disaster: Disaster may have less severe and destructive results than a catastrophe.
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