Ca*lam"i*ty (?) n.; pl.
Calamities (#). [L. calamitas, akin to
in-columis unharmed: cf. F. calamité]
1. Any great misfortune or cause of misery;
-- generally applied to events or disasters which produce
extensive evil, either to communities or individuals.
The word calamity was first derived from calamus
when the corn could not get out of the stalk. Bacon.
Strokes of calamity that scathe and scorch
2. A state or time of distress or
The deliberations of calamity are rarely
Where'er I came I brought calamity.
Syn. -- Disaster; distress; affliction; adversity;
misfortune; unhappiness; infelicity; mishap; mischance; misery;
evil; extremity; exigency; downfall. -- 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."