chron·ic | \ˈkrä-nik \

Definition of chronic 

1a : continuing or occurring again and again for a long time chronic indigestion chronic experiments

b : suffering from a chronic disease the special needs of chronic patients

2a : always present or encountered especially : constantly vexing, weakening, or troubling chronic petty warfare chronic meddling in one another's domestic affairs — Amatzia Baram

b : being such habitually a chronic grumbler

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from chronic

chronic noun
chronically \-ni-k(ə-)lē \ adverb
chronicity \krä-ˈni-sə-tē, krō- \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for chronic

inveterate, confirmed, chronic mean firmly established. inveterate applies to a habit, attitude, or feeling of such long existence as to be practically ineradicable or unalterable. an inveterate smoker confirmed implies a growing stronger and firmer with time so as to resist change or reform. a confirmed bachelor chronic suggests something that is persistent or endlessly recurrent and troublesome. a chronic complainer

Did You Know?

Chronic coughing goes on and on; chronic lateness occurs day after day; chronic lameness never seems to get any better. Unfortunately, situations that we call chronic almost always seem to be unpleasant. We never hear about chronic peace, but we do hear about chronic warfare. And we never speak of chronic health, only of chronic illness.

Examples of chronic in a Sentence

He suffers from chronic arthritis. a chronic need for attention Inflation has become a chronic condition in the economy. Don't bother seeing that film—it's chronic.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

In addition to these risks, among the most persistent problems facing NFIP is a chronic shortage of cash to pay future claims and cover administrative costs for the program. Daniel Cusick, Scientific American, "As Hurricane Season Ramps Up, Flood Insurance Program Set to Expire," 11 July 2018 Wochit The state on Monday added 11 medical conditions, including autism, chronic pain, Parkinson's disease and Tourette's syndrome, to the list of ailments that could qualify a person for a medical marijuana card. Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press, "Autism, 10 other conditions now qualify patients for medical marijuana," 9 July 2018 Two-thirds of individuals with metastatic cancer and more than half of those being treated for cancer report experiencing chronic pain, and 1 in 3 cancer patients do not receive medication appropriate for the intensity of their pain. Kathleen Hoffman, STAT, "Opioid stigma is keeping many cancer patients from getting the pain control they need," 6 July 2018 Police are in short supply Mexico suffers from a chronic police shortage, with 116,000 positions unfilled around the country. Ciara Nugent, Time, "Mexico Is Suffering Its Bloodiest Year in Modern History. Here's Why," 28 June 2018 Because of chronic medicine shortages and the hyperinflation in Venezuela in the past eight months, getting medicines is extremely hard. Stefano Pozzebon And Susan Scutti, CNN, "Polio re-emerges in Venezuela nearly 30 years after eradication," 11 June 2018 Jordan's economy has struggled to grow in the past few years in the face of chronic deficits, as private foreign capital and aid flows have declined. Suleiman Al-khalidi And Ellen Francis, The Christian Science Monitor, "Jordan's king appoints a new PM amid widespread unrest over tax hikes," 4 June 2018 Refugee aid programs have faced chronic funding shortages. Fox News, "UN agencies for Syria refugees warn of critical cash crunch," 1 June 2018 There’s a practical motivation: In Connecticut, there’s a chronic shortage of longer-term foster parents, so kids tend to bounce around a lot, which adds to their trauma. Josh Kovner,, "In Quest For More Foster Parents, DCF Reaches Out To A Reliable Source — The LGBTQ Community," 18 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'chronic.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of chronic

1601, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for chronic

French chronique, from Greek chronikos of time, from chronos

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about chronic

Statistics for chronic

Last Updated

18 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for chronic

The first known use of chronic was in 1601

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for chronic



English Language Learners Definition of chronic

medical : continuing or occurring again and again for a long time

: happening or existing frequently or most of the time

: always or often doing something specified


chron·ic | \ˈkrä-nik \

Kids Definition of chronic

1 : continuing for a long time or returning often a chronic disease

2 : happening or done frequently or by habit a chronic complainer chronic tardiness

Other Words from chronic

chronically \-ni-kə-lē \ adverb


chron·ic | \ˈkrän-ik \
variants: also chronical \-i-kəl \

Medical Definition of chronic 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : marked by long duration, by frequent recurrence over a long time, and often by slowly progressing seriousness : not acute chronic indigestion her hallucinations became chronic

b : suffering from a disease or ailment of long duration or frequent recurrence a chronic arthritic chronic sufferers from asthma

2a : having a slow progressive course of indefinite duration used especially of degenerative invasive diseases, some infections, psychoses, and inflammations chronic heart diseasechronic arthritischronic tuberculosis — compare acute sense 2b(1)

b : infected with a disease-causing agent (as a virus) and remaining infectious over a long period of time but not necessarily expressing symptoms chronic carriers may remain healthy but still transmit the virus causing hepatitis B

Other Words from chronic

chronically \-i-k(ə-)lē \ adverb
chronicity \krä-ˈnis-ət-ē, krō- \ noun plural -ties



Medical Definition of chronic (Entry 2 of 2)

: one that suffers from a chronic disease

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on chronic

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for chronic

Spanish Central: Translation of chronic

Nglish: Translation of chronic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of chronic for Arabic Speakers

Comments on chronic

What made you want to look up chronic? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to reject or criticize sharply

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!