1. a small waterfall
2. a series of things that come quickly one after the other
3. something that hangs down in large amounts, for example cloth or hair
Origin and usage
The word cascade is derived from the Latin word ‘casicare’ meaning ‘to fall’. It first appeared in English in the 1640s, derived from the 17th century French word ‘cascade’ meaning ‘waterfall’.
Cascade refers to something that falls or hangs down in large amounts. Waterfalls are the most common example of a cascade, though many other things can be said to cascade, including fabric, very long hair, sand and rocks.
One well-known example of a cascade is in the classic fairy tale story of Rapunzel. In the story, Rapunzel is a young princess who is stolen from her castle by an evil witch and locked away in a tower with no door. The only way to enter or exit the tower is by climbing up Rapunzel’s long cascade of hair.
By the time she reaches young adulthood, Rapunzel’s hair has grown long enough to cascade down the side of the tower from her window high above the ground. When the witch comes to visit her, she calls to Rapunzel and the princess tosses her long hair out of the window so the witch can use it as a rope and climb up.
One day, a handsome young man discovers the tower in the woods and even though Rapunzel has been warned not to talk to strangers, he calls to her and she lets down her cascade of hair so he can climb up. He rescues the beautiful princess and takes her far away from the evil witch.