cli·​max | \ ˈklī-ˌmaks How to pronounce climax (audio) \

Definition of climax

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a figure of speech in which a series of phrases or sentences is arranged in ascending order of rhetorical forcefulness
2a : the highest point : culmination the climax of a distinguished career
b : the point of highest dramatic tension or a major turning point in the action (as of a play) At the novel's climax, the main character finds herself face to face with the thief.
c : orgasm
d : menopause
3 : a relatively stable ecological stage or community especially of plants that is achieved through successful adaptation to an environment especially : the final stage in ecological succession the tropical rain forest is a climatic climax — P. W. Richards


climaxed; climaxing; climaxes

Definition of climax (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to bring to a climax climaxed his boxing career with a knockout The protest in May climaxed a series of demonstrations in the nation's capital.

intransitive verb

: to come to a climax a riot climaxing in the destruction of several houses The movie climaxes with a fantastic chase scene.

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from climax


climaxless adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for climax


summit, peak, pinnacle, climax, apex, acme, culmination mean the highest point attained or attainable. summit implies the topmost level attainable. at the summit of the Victorian social scene peak suggests the highest among other high points. an artist working at the peak of her powers pinnacle suggests a dizzying and often insecure height. the pinnacle of worldly success climax implies the highest point in an ascending series. the war was the climax to a series of hostile actions apex implies the point where all ascending lines converge. the apex of Dutch culture acme implies a level of quality representing the perfection of a thing. a statue that was once deemed the acme of beauty culmination suggests the outcome of a growth or development representing an attained objective. the culmination of years of effort

Examples of climax in a Sentence


The movie's climax is a fantastic chase scene. At the novel's climax, the main character finds herself face to face with the thief. the climax of her career The protest in May was the climax of a series of demonstrations in the nation's capital.


The movie climaxes with a fantastic chase scene. The May protest climaxed a series of demonstrations in the nation's capital.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The main female characters are all trying to cope with the fatal climax of Season 1, and their roles in it., "‘Big Little Lies’ returns: Meryl Streep and a superb cast make Season 2 deliciously watchable," 5 June 2019 And the work’s Finale movement was far too brief and inconsequential to have provided a fitting climax; this section needs to be either expanded or dropped. Howard Reich,, "Chicago Jazz Philharmonic delivers urgent message with 'Chicago Immigrant Stories'," 15 June 2018 The video’s climax is a showcase of a good deal of Be Best merchandise, promoting Trump’s curious anti-bullying campaign. Bridget Read, Vogue, "Melania Trump Unveils the 2018 White House Christmas Decorations, and They’re Straight Out of Gilead," 26 Nov. 2018 And the expression on the poor lad’s face, at the climax of the tale, is one of genuine bewilderment, quivering with disbelief that his ordinary young life should have descended into the infernal. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "“Hereditary” Delivers a New Kind of Horror," 7 June 2018 The storm itself provides a hell of a climax, an impressive demonstration of how the most restrained visual effects can also be the most terrifying. Justin Chang,, "Shailene Woodley's performance powers the evasive shipwreck-survival drama 'Adrift'," 31 May 2018 Schrader flashes a different sort of slyness in dropping narrative hints, operating conspicuously but in the service of a galvanizing climax that’s simply too out-there to anticipate. Tom Russo,, "‘First Reformed’ is more dark musings from Schrader," 25 May 2018 The climax is solid and intriguing but, in a way, anticlimactic to the gut-wrenching drama of The Outsider’s meatier chapters. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, "Stephen King's 'The Outsider': Thriller is a witchy brew of crime, horror," 21 May 2018 The balance between comedy and tragedy tips too far toward the ridiculous, blunting the emotional impact of the play’s climax. Julia M. Klein,, "'Wild Duck' at Quintessence: Sleek, contemporary update of Ibsen," 8 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The celebrations continue for 10 days, climaxing on Feb. 11. Nasser Karimi, The Seattle Times, "Iranians mark anniversary of victory day in 1979 revolution," 11 Feb. 2019 Outlaw King climaxes with the battle of Loudoun Hill, which the Scots won by using long spears to disable the fearsome English cavalry. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "'Outlaw King' vs. 'Braveheart': Which Movie Gets Scotland Right?," 13 Nov. 2018 Tensions between indigenous Kanaks and European descendants climaxed in 1988 when a group of French police officers was taken hostage — four were killed — and held in a cave on one of the smaller islands for two weeks. A. Odysseus Patrick, Washington Post, "A bit of France in the South Pacific votes this year on independence," 1 June 2018 The exercise will climax with a live-fire exercise held by the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Huge NATO Exercise Is a Rehearsal for a Russian Invasion," 7 June 2016 The battle climaxed when Mr. Kleinfeld lost his job after sending a letter that seemed threatening to the hedge fund’s founder, Paul Singer, and Elliott ultimately received a few board seats in a settlement. Cara Lombardo, WSJ, "Elliott Management Goes on Charm Offensive," 8 Oct. 2018 Rival factions in the communist party exploited the protests in their pursuit of party control, with the crisis climaxing in the purge of Jews from the party and jobs. Washington Post, "Poland remembers 1968 student protests, anti-Semitic purge," 8 Mar. 2018 The performance climaxes, then slinks on, crests again and continues. Alexis Soloski, New York Times, "Review: Mummenschanz Offers Wonder, and a Grumpy Trash Bag," 10 July 2018 Sunday night will climax with sets from Chaka Khan and Lauryn Hill. Andrew R. Chow, New York Times, "15 Pop Music Festivals to Catch This Summer," 17 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'climax.' 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 climax


circa 1538, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1807, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for climax

Noun and Verb

Late Latin, from Greek klimax, literally, ladder, from klinein to lean

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about climax

Statistics for climax

Last Updated

14 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for climax

The first known use of climax was circa 1538

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for climax



English Language Learners Definition of climax

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the most exciting and important part of a story, play, or movie that occurs usually at or near the end
: the most interesting and exciting part of something : the high point
: the most intense point of sexual pleasure



English Language Learners Definition of climax (Entry 2 of 2)

: to reach the most exciting or important part in something
: to occur at the end as the most exciting or important part of (something)
: to have an orgasm


cli·​max | \ ˈklī-ˌmaks How to pronounce climax (audio) \

Kids Definition of climax

: the most interesting, exciting, or important time or part of something a story's climax


cli·​max | \ ˈklī-ˌmaks How to pronounce climax (audio) \

Medical Definition of climax

1 : the highest or most intense point
2 : orgasm

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on climax

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with climax

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for climax

Spanish Central: Translation of climax

Nglish: Translation of climax for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of climax for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about climax

Comments on climax

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


to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Finance Words Quiz

  • a-piggy-bank
  • The etymology of mortgage is related most closely to which two words?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


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!