cli·​mac·​ter·​ic | \ klī-ˈmak-t(ə-)rik How to pronounce climacteric (audio) ; ˌklī-ˌmak-ˈter-ik, -ˈtir- \

Definition of climacteric

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : constituting or relating to a climacteric



Definition of climacteric (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a major turning point or critical stage
3 : the marked and sudden rise in the respiratory rate of fruit just prior to full ripening

Synonyms for climacteric

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Noun

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Climacteric comes from the Greek word klimaktēr, meaning "critical point" or, literally, "rung of a ladder." English speakers have long used climacteric for those inevitable big moments encountered on the metaphorical ladder of life. The major climacterics in a person’s life were once thought to happen in years denoted by multiples of 7 or 9 or only in the odd multiples of 7 (7, 21, 35, etc.). The grand (or great) climacteric was held to occur in the 63rd (7 x 9) or the 81st (9 x 9) year of life. Today, climacteric can refer to male or female menopause, which typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, but the general "turning point" sense is not usually tied to a specific age.

Examples of climacteric in a Sentence

Adjective as the war reached its climacteric phase, the atrocities dramatically increased, both in number and brutality Noun historians attempting to pinpoint the Roman Empire's climacteric, that precise moment when it began its long downhill slide
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective For this reader, roughly the same age as Sam Raymond, there is uncommon pleasure in the paradoxes of this climacteric tale. Claire Messud, Harper's Magazine, 22 June 2021 Macerating unripe climacteric fruit in sugar, however, isn’t a substitute for ripening them; that just takes time in your kitchen counter’s fruit basket. Bill St. John, The Denver Post, 8 May 2017

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

First Known Use of climacteric


1582, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1633, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for climacteric


Latin climactericus, from Greek klimaktērikos, from klimaktēr critical point, literally, rung of a ladder, from klimak-, klimax ladder

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The first known use of climacteric was in 1582

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Cite this Entry

“Climacteric.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for climacteric


cli·​mac·​ter·​ic | \ klī-ˈmak-t(ə-)rik, ˌklī-ˌmak-ˈter-ik How to pronounce climacteric (audio) \

Medical Definition of climacteric

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: constituting or characterized by the climacteric the climacteric state



Medical Definition of climacteric (Entry 2 of 2)


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