Student Dictionary

One entry found for disaster.
Main Entry: di·sas·ter
Pronunciation: diz-primarystressas-tschwar, dis-
Function: noun
Etymology: from early French desastre and early Italian disastro, both meaning "an unfavorable position of a star," from early Italian dis- (negative prefix) and astro "star," from Latin astrum "star"
: a sudden great misfortune; especially : something (as a flood or tornado) that happens suddenly and causes much suffering or loss
- di·sas·trous /-primarystressas-trschwas/ adjective
- di·sas·trous·ly adverb
Word History People who have bad luck are sometimes said to be "star-crossed." This expression comes from the traditional belief that the positions of the stars and planets can have a direct influence on earthly events. The origins of the word disaster can be traced to this belief. Disaster comes from disastro, an Italian word formed by combining the negative prefix dis- and the noun astro, meaning "star." Disaster at first meant "an unfavorable position of a star or planet." In time it came to be applied to the kind of terrible misfortune which such a position was thought to cause.

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