Ca·lam·i·ty n.; pl. Calamities
1. Any great misfortune or cause of misery; -- generally applied to events or disasters which produce extensive evil, either to communities or individuals.
Note: The word calamity was first derived from calamus when the corn could not get out of the stalk.
Strokes of calamity that scathe and scorch the soul. --W. Irving.
2. A state or time of distress or misfortune; misery.
The deliberations of calamity are rarely wise. --Burke.
Where'er I came I brought calamity. --Tennyson.
Syn: -- Disaster; distress; affliction; adversity; misfortune; unhappiness; infelicity; mishap; mischance; misery; evil; extremity; exigency; downfall.
Usage: -- Calamity, Disaster, Misfortune, Mishap, Mischance. Of these words, calamity is the strongest. It supposes a somewhat continuous state, produced not usually by the direct agency of man, but by natural causes, such as fire, flood, tempest, disease, etc, Disaster denotes literally ill-starred, and is some unforeseen and distressing event which comes suddenly upon us, as if from hostile planet. Misfortune is often due to no specific cause; it is simply the bad fortune of an individual; a link in the chain of events; an evil independent of his own conduct, and not to be charged as a fault. Mischance and mishap are misfortunes of a trivial nature, occurring usually to individuals. “A calamity is either public or private, but more frequently the former; a disaster is rather particular than private; it affects things rather than persons; journey, expedition, and military movements are often attended with disasters; misfortunes are usually personal; they immediately affect the interests of the individual.”