I am composing a problem for my students. It goes something like this:

You are writing a software for an observatory. You have a database of near-Earth objects that contains the following information about each object

  • name
  • category (asteroid, planet, comet, etc)
  • ...
  • the probability of impact with Earth
  • devastativeness (?) in case of impact


I don't seem to be able to find "devastativeness" in dictionaries. Its meaning is obvious, but I would like to use an actual word here. Any ideas?

To be explicit, I am looking for a word meaning the extent of being devastative /catastrophic.

P.S. In Russian I would use the word катастрофичность, which means "catastrophicality", exactly what I need, but google translated it as catastrophic, which can't be right.

  • 9
    The noun form is devastation, so you could say degree of devastation.
    – J.R.
    Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 18:13
  • Just as a note, in English, one writes "a program", or "some software", or just "software", but not "a software".
    – Jim
    Commented Mar 21, 2013 at 4:12
  • I know you already accepted an answer, but if you're wanting to focus on the harm caused, maybe aftermath would work. It is defined as "a consequence, especially of a disaster."
    – JLG
    Commented Mar 21, 2013 at 13:22

6 Answers 6


Destructiveness is an actual word and it seems to match your criteria.

  • 1
    This occurred to me too but destructiveness merely indicates the ability to cause damage not the magnitude of the destruction- which is what the ask-er is looking for.
    – moonstar
    Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 17:18
  • 1
    @moonstar2001 I think it doesn't matter in this particular case. It's similar to aptitude vs. ability.
    – Chris
    Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 17:23

I agree with @Abody97 that destructiveness is your best bet considering the provided criteria. A less attractive option would be vehemence, which is sometimes used to describe storms.

If the criteria are flexible, you could consider something along the lines of:

  • Scale of devastation
  • Magnitude of impact
  • Intensity of impact
  • Severity

Magnitude and intensity are often used to represent the effects of events such as earthquakes, tornadoes, and cyclones.


Perhaps ironically, I think the best word here may be impact, specifically in the third sense identified in the link.

  • But impact can be positive too, can't it? Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 17:50
  • @ArmenԾիրունյան: yes.
    – user11752
    Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 17:52
  • Yes, it can do both. You could use "negative impact of the asteroid." I can't think of a word that implies the potential negative effects of a catastrophe.
    – Ben
    Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 17:52
  • @Ben: But in the phrase "negative impact of the asteroid" isn't impact sort of ambiguous because when one sees impact and asteroid in one sentence, one instantly thinks of a collision... Or maybe I am imagining it Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 17:55
  • By describing impact with "negative," it clears up most of the ambiguity, but there's still a potential that some might think otherwise. On second thought, I think "potential devastation caused by the asteroid" might be the best bet here, although that's not a single word.
    – Ben
    Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 18:01

"Scope of impact damage" seems to cover your need for that category. You're addressing the condition that the object does achieve impact and then you're specifying the need to provide a scope of the damage.

  • 1
    This is specifically tagged as [single-word-request], so I don't think this will work.
    – mskfisher
    Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 20:32

If "destructiveness" feels too clumsy for whatever reason you could opt for "destructive capacity" or "devastative capacity." Seems pretty clearly to me to refer to how capable an object is of causing destruction.


"Damageability" is a term I have read in use. Or you could just use "damage in case of impact".

  • 3
    "Damageability" refers more to the ability of an object to be damaged, not the level of damage an item is able to inflict.
    – mskfisher
    Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 20:31

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