disaster


disaster
[16] The word disaster has astrological connotations. It comes, perhaps via French désastre, from Italian disastro; this was a backformation from disastrato, literally ‘ill-starred’, a compound adjective formed from the pejorative prefix dis- and astro ‘star’, a descendant of Latin astrum ‘star’. This in turn came from Greek astron ‘star’, source of English astronomy and related to English star. So the underlying meaning of the word is ‘malevolent astral influence’. Provençal has the parallel malastre ‘misfortune’.
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   The word came into English from French, which got it from Italian disastro, itself from Latin dis-, 'not,' and aster, 'star.' A disaster thus occurred when the stars were unfavorable. In Shakespeare's Hamlet, Horatio tells of the 'disasters in the sun' just before the murder of Julius Caesar.

The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins. 2013.

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  • disaster — [di zas′tər, dizäs′tər; ] also [ dis as′tər, disäs′tər] n. [OFr desastre < It disastro < L dis + astrum < Gr astron (see ASTRAL), star: from astrological notions: cf. ILL STARRED] any happening that causes great harm or damage; serious… …   English World dictionary

  • Disaster — Dis*as ter, v. t. 1. To blast by the influence of a baleful star. [Obs.] Sir P. Sidney. [1913 Webster] 2. To bring harm upon; to injure. [R.] Thomson. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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  • disaster — ► NOUN 1) a sudden accident or a natural catastrophe that causes great damage or loss of life. 2) an event or fact leading to ruin or failure. ORIGIN Italian disastro ill starred event , from Latin astrum star …   English terms dictionary