/di zas"teuhr, -zah"steuhr/ , n.
1. a calamitous event, esp. one occurring suddenly and causing great loss of life, damage, or hardship, as a flood, airplane crash, or business failure.
2. Obs. an unfavorable aspect of a star or planet.
[ 1585-95; desastre disastro, equiv. to dis- DIS- 1 + astro star astrum ástron ]
Syn. 1. mischance, misfortune, misadventure, mishap, accident, blow, reverse, adversity, affliction. DISASTER, CALAMITY, CATASTROPHE, CATACLYSM refer to adverse happenings often occurring suddenly and unexpectedly. A DISASTER may be caused by carelessness, negligence, bad judgment, or the like, or by natural forces, as a hurricane or flood: a railroad disaster. CALAMITY suggests great affliction, either personal or general; the emphasis is on the grief or sorrow caused: the calamity of losing a child.
CATASTROPHE refers esp. to the tragic outcome of a personal or public situation; the emphasis is on the destruction or irreplaceable loss: the catastrophe of a defeat in battle. CATACLYSM, physically an earth-shaking change, refers to a personal or public upheaval of unparalleled violence: a cataclysm that turned his life in a new direction.