Meaning of “disaster” in the English Dictionary

"disaster" in British English

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disasternoun [ C or U ]

uk /dɪˈzɑː.stər/ us /dɪˈzæs.tɚ/

B2 (an event that results in) great harm, damage, or death, or serious difficulty:

An inquiry was ordered into the recent rail disaster (= a serious train accident).
It would be a disaster for me if I lost my job.
This is one of the worst natural disasters ever to befall the area.
Heavy and prolonged rain can spell disaster for many plants.
Everything was going smoothly until suddenly disaster struck.
Inviting James and Ivan to dinner on the same evening was a recipe for disaster (= caused a very difficult situation) - they always argue with each other.
be a disaster B2 informal

to be very unsuccessful or extremely bad:

The evening was a complete disaster.
As an engineer, he was a disaster.

More examples

  • The destruction of the rain forests is an ecological disaster.
  • The plane narrowly avoided disaster when one of the engines cut out on take-off.
  • Let us pray for the victims of this terrible disaster.
  • News of the disaster shocked the whole world.
  • Floods and earthquakes are natural disasters.

(Definition of “disaster” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"disaster" in American English

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disasternoun [ C/U ]

us /dɪˈzæs·tər/

an event causing great harm, damage, or suffering:

[ U ] disaster aid/relief
[ C ] Over 100 people died in the disaster.
[ C ] The hurricane may be the costliest natural disaster in US history.

fig. A disaster is also a complete failure:

[ C ] Our last dinner party was an absolute disaster.

(Definition of “disaster” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"disaster" in Business English

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disasternoun [ C or U ]

uk /dɪˈzɑːstər/ us

a sudden event that causes a lot of damage, such as a very bad fire, storm, or accident:

Insurance companies often charge extra to cover floods, earthquakes, or other natural disasters.

an extremely bad situation that can destroy a company’s plans, success, or ability to operate:

mean/spell disaster for sb A crash in real estate prices would mean financial disaster for the housing lenders.
The $7.48 billion takeover quickly turned into a major disaster.

(Definition of “disaster” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)