adjective chron·ic \ ˈkrä-nik \
|Updated on: 12 Jul 2018

Definition of chronic

1 a : 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
2 a : 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




play \-ni-k(ə-)lē\ adverb


play \krä-ˈni-sə-tē, krō-\ noun

Examples of chronic in a Sentence

  1. He suffers from chronic arthritis.

  2. a chronic need for attention

  3. Inflation has become a chronic condition in the economy.

  4. Don't bother seeing that film—it's chronic.

Recent Examples of chronic from the Web

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.

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.

Origin and Etymology of chronic

French chronique, from Greek chronikos of time, from chronos

Synonym Discussion of 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

CHRONIC Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of chronic for English Language Learners

  • 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

CHRONIC Defined for Kids


adjective chron·ic \ ˈkrä-nik \

Definition of chronic for Students

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


\-ni-kə-lē\ adverb

Word Root of chronic

The Greek word chronos, meaning “time,” gives us the root chron. Words from the Greek chronos have something to do with time. The chronological order of events is the order in which they happened in time. Anything that is chronic lasts for a very long time. A chronicle is a telling of events in the order in which they happened in time.

Medical Dictionary



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

medical Definition of chronic

1 a : 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
2 a : having a slow progressive course of indefinite duration used especially of degenerative invasive diseases, some infections, psychoses, and inflammations
  • chronic heart disease
  • chronic arthritis
  • chronic tuberculosis
— compare acute 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


play \-i-k(ə-)lē\ adverb


play \krä-ˈnis-ət-ē, krō-\ noun, plural -ties




medical Definition of chronic

: one that suffers from a chronic disease

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