English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I am looking for a noun which describes some sort of apocalyptic or world-ending event, but does not have the religious baggage of words like apocalypse.

share|improve this question
Catastrophe? Cataclysm? Apocalypse does not necessarily have religious connotations. – American Luke Sep 26 '12 at 23:17
@luke OK on the first two, but beg to differ on apocalypse. It comes from Greek for revelation and refers to a biblical text. See this source – bib Sep 26 '12 at 23:54
Fifth definition. I see where you're coming from, but it is not necessarily religious. – American Luke Sep 27 '12 at 0:33
@luke While the word may often be used without intending a religious connotation, OP is trying to avoid the religious baggage that some readers may bring to the term. – bib Sep 27 '12 at 0:54
If there is ever a time for people to "get religion" it will be when the world is about to end. – Jim Sep 27 '12 at 4:57
up vote 5 down vote accepted
  • devastation
  • cataclysm
  • annihilation
  • holocaust
  • obliteration
  • calamity
  • ruin
  • extinction
  • catastrophe
  • disaster
share|improve this answer
Is that all? +1 – bib Sep 26 '12 at 23:49
Looks like a thesaurus entry. – American Luke Sep 27 '12 at 0:34
@luke As it should. – bib Sep 27 '12 at 0:55
@tchrist And perhaps we should add bang and whimper! – bib Sep 27 '12 at 1:07
"The Coming of the Great White Handkerchief", (oh, wait, that does have a religious connotation, nvm). – Xantix Sep 27 '12 at 1:27

TEOTWAWKI - the end of the world as we know it

share|improve this answer

The singularity. The event horizon.

share|improve this answer

The traditional "sciencespeak" for this is "Extinction scale event".

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.