Any great misfortune or reason for misery generally applied to events or catastrophes which create considerable evil either to communities or individuals
- an event leading to great loss and misfortune
- Any great misfortune or reason for distress; -- generally placed on events or catastrophes which create extensive evil, both to communities or individuals.
- a situation or time of stress or misfortune; distress.
early 15c., from Middle French calamite (14c.), from Latin calamitatem (nominative calamitas) "damage, loss, failure; catastrophe, misfortune, adversity," beginning obscure. Early etymologists linked it with calamus "straw" (see shawm); but it is perhaps from a lost root maintained in incolumis "uninjured," from PIE *kle-mo-, from base *kel- (1) "to hit, cut" (see holt).
A certain increase of the income tax to a shilling seemed a much more serious calamity than the uncertain prospect of a possible invasion.