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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 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. -- 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.” Crabb.