catastrophic vs cataclysmic

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Adelch

Member
Farsi
Do these adjectives have anything in common?

"Any changes applied to the time line could be Catastrophic/Cataclysmic." (Traveling backwards in time)

"During the world war 2 , world's economy had suffered a Catastrophic slump , so civilians felt the urge to cling to their possessions; however, the rulers resolved to enforce heavy taxes on Their residents."
 
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    If you’re simply asking what the difference is between those two adjectives…

    Cataclysmic relates to a cataclysm, which is a natural disaster such as a volcanic eruption or an earthquake or a flood. But the word is also used figuratively, to mean any disastrous situation, especially one involving complete political and/or social upheaval.

    Catastrophic relates to a catastrophe, which can be any kind of disaster, natural or man-made, large or small in scale.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    I would have said that "cataclysmic" relates more to it being an upheaval rather than its having negative consequences. "Catastrophic" is wholly negative in tone, referring to the consequences, not really to the thing that caused them.

    King Harold being killed at the Battle of Hastings was probably catastrophic for the English, but just one person's death could in no way be called cataclysmic. The Norman invasion might be called cataclysmic for England, resulting as it did with the complete upheaval of the country. However, the consequences were arguably positive as a whole, so it could hardly be described as being catastrophic, not for the country, at any rate.
     

    Adelch

    Member
    Farsi
    I would have said that "cataclysmic" relates more to it being an upheaval rather than its having negative consequences. "Catastrophic" is wholly negative in tone, referring to the consequences, not really to the thing that caused them.

    King Harold being killed at the Battle of Hastings was probably catastrophic for the English, but just one person's death could in no way be called cataclysmic. The Norman invasion might be called cataclysmic for England, resulting as it did with the complete upheaval of the country. However, the consequences were arguably positive as a whole, so it could hardly be described as being catastrophic, not for the country, at any rate.
    Thank you for your thorough breakdown.
     
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