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Yesterday, I talked with a friend and mentioned that the Lord Jesus had the potential of suffering a fatal disaster in Judea, because many people tried to kill Him, like the high priest, King of Herod. He thought I couldn't use "fatal disaster," because this context refers to specifically man-made murders, whereas "fatal disaster" usually refers to an accident or a natural catastrophe. What do you think?

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  • It's not exactly idiomatic usage, but it's not demonstrably wrong. At issue mostly would be the many possible nuances of the word "disaster".
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 2, 2016 at 13:57
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    Also, a disaster tends to be something happening to a number of people, not just one (unless someone speaks of their personal disaster). So for instance the Japanese tsunami was a natural disaster, 9/11 was a manmade one.
    – jamesqf
    Apr 1, 2016 at 18:01
  • A disaster need not be fatal, but something fatal could be a disaster, especially for the person concerned, but - as @jamesqf has said - 'disaster' more usually refers to something affecting a substantial number of people.
    – TrevorD
    Jun 30, 2016 at 18:51

2 Answers 2

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The adjective fatal refers to (according to Merriam-Webster):

1 (obsolete) fated

2 fateful

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a: of or relating to fate
b: resembling fate in proceeding according to a fixed sequence
c: determining one's fate

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a: causing death
b: bringing ruin
c : causing failure

Although some of the definitions have an aura of "nature" (or fate, whatever), it is perfectly acceptable to say something like

He connected the wrong wire to the electric board, an act that had fatal consequences.

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    I suspect the question centers more around "disaster".
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 2, 2016 at 13:58
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Most dictionaries define "disaster" as being accidental in nature, so i don't think attempted murder qualifies. The phrase "fatal disaster" sounds very odd but i can't explain why exactly.

Having said that, the trip as a whole might commonly be described as a disaster, or "disastrous". Eg

Mary: "How was your trip to Judea?"

Jesus: "It was a disaster! An angry mob tried to kill me."

This would be a commonly accepted usage.

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