What Does An Act of God Mean?

An Act of God Meaning

Definition: Something that humans cannot create or control.

Examples of acts of God would include natural disasters.

Origin of Act of God

Originally, this expression was literal and used in a religious way. It meant something that God did.

People used the expression in this way for hundreds of years before insurance and legal entities began using it.

By the 1800s, lawyers and insurance companies were using this expression to mean that an event happened that was beyond what humans could control.

Examples of Act of God

act of man meaningIn this example, a man is complaining about a volcano that recently erupted.

Neha: Hey, are you okay? I heard a volcano erupted near you!

Tyrese: Yeah, I’m fine. It released a bunch of ash but nothing major.

Neha: Oh, I guess that’s not too bad.

Tyrese: Yeah. I am a little disappointed because all the ash has been blowing around in the air. It’s really messing with my allergies.

Neha: Maybe you can take some days off of work.

Tyrese: Maybe. It’s not as if I can stop the ash. I can’t control an act of God.

act of god insuranceIn this example, two office workers are discussing which insurance to buy.

Barry: I need new car insurance.

Rachel: I like mine. It’s pretty good, and it doesn’t cost that much per month.

Barry: Does your insurance cover acts of God?

Rachel: I don’t think so. Why?

Barry: My last car got hit by lightening, and my insurance wouldn’t cover it.

Rachel: Oh my goodness! Were you inside the car?

Barry: No, luckily!

More Examples

This excerpt is about a Sikh temple that helped many people stay safe during big floods.

  • When an act of God threatened to leave thousands of people without a home, a temple door opened to offer shelter. –New York Daily News

This excerpt is about power companies. One man thinks power companies hold themselves to an unreasonable standard.

  • They are needlessly trying to attain a level of reliability that is a worst-case “act of God standard,” he said. –LA Times


The phrase act of God usually refers to natural disasters like floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, etc. However, it can mean anything that is beyond the control of humans.