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Calamity vs. Affliction: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on October 6, 2023
Calamity refers to a disastrous event causing great harm, while Affliction is a condition of suffering or distress due to adversity.

Key Differences

Calamity often denotes a sudden and large-scale disaster or misfortune, often impacting a large group of people or an entire community. Affliction, on the other hand, can refer to any state of pain, suffering, or distress, and often has a more personal or intimate connotation.
Calamity is typically associated with catastrophic events such as earthquakes, floods, or financial crashes. It brings to mind situations that result in significant devastation or loss. Affliction encompasses a broader range of experiences, which could include personal health issues, emotional distress, or societal problems.
A community might rally together in the face of a calamity, seeking to rebuild and recover from a tangible event. An affliction, while it can certainly impact more than one individual, often requires a more personal or internal approach to cope with or overcome.
While both calamity and affliction indicate negative circumstances, their usages and implications vary. Calamity emphasizes the scale and suddenness of an unfortunate event, whereas affliction focuses on the state of suffering or hardship, be it physical, emotional, or spiritual.

Comparison Chart


A sudden, disastrous event
A condition of pain, distress, or suffering


Often large-scale
Can be personal or widespread


Typically sudden
Can be prolonged or chronic

Common Associations

Natural disasters, financial crashes
Health issues, emotional distress, societal problems

Emotional Response

Urgency, shock
Pity, empathy, concern

Calamity and Affliction Definitions


A great misfortune or disaster.
The earthquake was a calamity that affected thousands.


A challenge or hardship that tests one's endurance.
Facing discrimination is an affliction for many minority groups.


A severe and unexpected catastrophe.
The unexpected storm was a calamity for the coastal town.


Something that causes distress or hardship.
Poverty is an affliction that affects millions.


A sudden and impactful negative event.
Losing their primary source of income was a calamity for the family.


A state of pain or suffering.
Chronic illness is a cruel affliction.


A grievous affliction.
The famine was a calamity for the whole region.


A condition of ongoing discomfort or difficulty.
Depression is an affliction that requires understanding and support.


An event causing sudden damage or distress.
The stock market crash was an economic calamity.


A condition of pain, suffering, or distress
The affliction of arthritis.


An event that brings terrible loss, lasting distress, or severe affliction; a disaster
A hurricane would be a calamity for this low-lying coastal region.


A cause of pain, suffering, or distress
"The mount twists wind and weather to alter them into afflictions as a heartless monarch does laws" (William Least Heat-Moon).


Dire distress resulting from loss or tragedy.


A state of pain, suffering, distress or agony.


An event resulting in great loss.


Something which causes pain, suffering, distress or agony.


The distress that results from some disaster.


The cause of continued pain of body or mind, as sickness, losses, etc.; an instance of grievous distress; a pain or grief.
To repay that money will be a biting affliction.


Any great misfortune or cause of misery; - generally applied to events or disasters which produce extensive evil, either to communities or individuals.
Strokes of calamity that scathe and scorch the soul.


The state of being afflicted; a state of pain, distress, or grief.
Some virtues are seen only in affliction.


A state or time of distress or misfortune; misery.
The deliberations of calamity are rarely wise.
Where'er I came I brought calamity.


A state of great suffering and distress due to adversity


An event resulting in great loss and misfortune;
The whole city was affected by the irremediable calamity
The earthquake was a disaster


A condition of suffering or distress due to ill health


A cause of great suffering and distress


A physical or mental malady.
Blindness is an affliction he was born with.


Can affliction be a calamity?

Yes, an affliction can be considered a calamity if it's sudden and has widespread negative impacts.

Is a hurricane an example of a calamity?

Yes, a hurricane is an example of a calamity due to its destructive nature.

Can personal loss be considered an affliction?

Yes, personal losses can be afflictions if they result in pain or distress.

Is a disease an affliction?

Yes, diseases are typically considered afflictions as they cause suffering.

Can an affliction be emotional?

Yes, afflictions can be emotional, physical, or spiritual.

Can a calamity be man-made?

Yes, events like financial crashes or wars can be man-made calamities.

Are all calamities negative?

By definition, calamities are negative as they cause harm or distress.

Are calamities always unexpected?

While many calamities are unexpected, some, like predictable weather events, can be anticipated.

What is a calamity?

A calamity is a sudden, disastrous event causing significant harm.

How can communities cope with calamities?

Communities often rally together, seeking resources, support, and rebuilding efforts.

Can someone be afflicted without a tangible reason?

Yes, afflictions like emotional distress might not have a tangible cause.

Which word implies a larger scale, calamity or affliction?

Calamity often implies a larger scale.

Can an affliction be temporary?

Yes, afflictions can be temporary or chronic.

Can someone have multiple afflictions?

Yes, individuals can experience multiple afflictions simultaneously.

Can a calamity lead to an affliction?

Yes, for instance, a natural disaster (calamity) can lead to trauma or health issues (afflictions).

Are afflictions always evident?

No, some afflictions, especially emotional or mental ones, might not be visibly evident.

Is calamity a synonym for tragedy?

While they have similar meanings, tragedy often has a connotation of sorrow, while calamity emphasizes disaster.

How can individuals cope with affliction?

Coping mechanisms vary but may include seeking medical help, therapy, community support, or spiritual guidance.

Can a personal problem be labeled an affliction?

Yes, if the personal problem causes significant distress or hardship.

Can calamities be prevented?

Some calamities, especially natural ones, can't be prevented, but their impact can be mitigated through preparedness and planning.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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