Definition: Apocalypse

From New World Encyclopedia


From Middle English apocalips, from Latin apocalypsis, from Ancient Greek ἀποκάλυψις or apokálupsis (revelation), literally meaning "uncovering," from ἀπό or apó (back, away from) and καλύπτω or kalúptō (I cover). The sense evolution to "catastrophe, end of the world" stems from the depiction of such events in the biblical Book of Revelation, also called the Apocalypse of (i.e. Revelation to) John.


apocalypse (plural apocalypses)

  1. A revelation, especially of supernatural events.
    The early development of the Perl 6 programming language, currently known as Raku was punctuated by a series of apocalypses by Larry Wall.
  2. (Christianity) The unveiling of events prophesied in the Book of Revelation; the second coming and the end of life on Earth; global destruction.
  3. (Christianity) The Book of Revelation.
  4. A disaster; a cataclysmic event; destruction or ruin.
    A nuclear apocalypse would have been possible if tensions went out of control during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Derived terms

  • apocalyptic
  • apocalypticism
  • eco-apocalypse
  • post-apocalypse


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