Etymology
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disaster (n.)
Origin and meaning of disaster

"anything that befalls of ruinous or distressing nature; any unfortunate event," especially a sudden or great misfortune, 1590s, from French désastre (1560s), from Italian disastro, literally "ill-starred," from dis-, here merely pejorative, equivalent to English mis- "ill" (see dis-) + astro "star, planet," from Latin astrum, from Greek astron "star" (from PIE root *ster- (2) "star").

The sense is astrological, of a calamity blamed on an unfavorable position of a planet, and "star" here is probably meant in the astrological sense of "destiny, fortune, fate." Compare Medieval Latin astrum sinistrum "misfortune," literally "unlucky star," and English ill-starred.

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disastrous (adj.)

1580s, "ill-starred, unlucky," a sense now obsolete, from French désastreux (16c.), which is from désastre (see disaster) or else from Italian desastroso. The modern meaning "calamitous, ruinous, of the nature of a disaster," is from c. 1600. Related: Disastrously; disastrousness.

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*ster- (2)

Proto-Indo-European root meaning "star." Buck and others doubt the old suggestion that it is a borrowing from Akkadian istar "venus." The source of the common Balto-Slavic word for "star" (Lithuanian žvaigždė, Old Church Slavonic zvezda, Polish gwiazda, Russian zvezda) is not explained.

It forms all or part of: aster; asterisk; asterism; asteroid; astral; astro-; astrobiology; astrobleme; astrognosy; astroid; astrolabe; astrolatry; astrology; astromancy; astronaut; astronomy; AstroTurf; constellation; disaster; Estella; Esther; instellation; interstellar; lodestar; star; stardust; starfish; starlet; starlight; starry; stellar; stellate.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit star-; Hittite shittar, Greek aster "star," with derivative astron; Latin stella, Breton sterenn, Welsh seren "star."

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debacle (n.)

"disaster," 1848, from French débâcle "downfall, collapse, disaster" (17c.), a figurative use, literally "breaking up (of ice on a river) in consequence of a rise in the water," extended to the violent flood that follows when the river ice melts in spring; from débâcler "to free," earlier desbacler "to unbar," from des- "off" (see dis-) + bacler "to bar," from Vulgar Latin *bacculare, from Latin baculum "stick" (see bacillus).

The literal sense is attested in English from 1802, in geology, to explain the landscapes left by the ice ages. Figurative sense of "disaster" was present in French before English borrowed the word.

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mischance (n.)

"mishap, ill-luck, disaster," c. 1300, from Old French mescheance "misfortune, mishap, accident; wickedness, malice," from Vulgar Latin *minuscadentiam; see mis- (2) + chance (n.). Now usually "bad luck;" formerly much stronger: "calamity, disaster, affliction."

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Chernobyl 
city in Ukraine (Ukrainian Chornobyl), from Russian chernobylnik "mugwort." Site of 1986 nuclear disaster.
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malefic (adj.)

"doing mischief, producing disaster or evil," 1650s, from Latin maleficus "wicked, vicious, criminal," from male "ill" (see mal-) + -ficus "making, doing," from combining form of facere "to make, do" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put"). Related: Malefical (1610s).

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smitten (adj.)
mid-13c., "struck hard, afflicted, visited with disaster," past-participle adjective from smite. Sense of "inspired with love" is from 1660s.
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calamitous (adj.)
"marked by great misfortune," 1540s, from French calamiteux (16c.), from Latin calamitosus "causing loss, destructive; liable to damage or disaster," from calamitas (see calamity). Related: Calamitously; calamitousness.
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catastrophe (n.)

1530s, "reversal of what is expected" (especially a fatal turning point in a drama, the winding up of the plot), from Latin catastropha, from Greek katastrophe "an overturning; a sudden end," from katastrephein "to overturn, turn down, trample on; to come to an end," from kata "down" (see cata-) + strephein "turn" (from PIE root *streb(h)- "to wind, turn"). Extension to "sudden disaster" is first recorded 1748.

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