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.

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Both the humor and the tension between the characters builds to a climax in which the play takes a serious tone as Alvarez (David) delivers a stirring speech as to why the bris is important to him. Marvin Glassman, Jewish Journal, "Play takes a lighter look at the bris ceremony," 14 June 2018 Months of anticipation came to a climax Thursday night, when the Colts made their highest first-round selection in the NFL draft in six years, grabbing Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson at sixth overall. Zak Keefer, Indianapolis Star, "Colts bring in protection for Andrew Luck, select Quenton Nelson with No. 6 pick," 26 Apr. 2018 No one expected the season’s emotional climax to unfurl at Tommy Hilfiger’s Paris takeover. Monica Kim, Vogue, "The 8 Beauty Takeaways of Paris Fashion Week," 6 Mar. 2019 The book’s heartbreaking climax doesn’t make the questions or answers any easier to swallow, and Mr. Orange leaves the reader enmeshed and hypnotized. WSJ, "Who Read What in 2018: Actors and Entertainers," 10 Dec. 2018 This influences the arc of play, and the game achieves a sense of climax superior to its predecessors. Charlie Theel, Ars Technica, "Arkham Horror Third Edition: The classic Lovecraft adventure returns," 24 Nov. 2018 Unfortunately, the now-missing climax backtracked this reading substantially. Graeme Mcmillan, The Verge, "The TV reboot of Heathers was doomed from the start," 31 Oct. 2018 At the climax, the priest destroys the altar in an act of horrifying sacrilege. Aja Romano, Vox, "Leonard Bernstein gave American music so much more than West Side Story.," 25 Aug. 2018 After six seasons of steadily building dread, what might have been the best drama series of the decade released its tension not all at once in a spectacular onscreen climax, but in much more measured fashion, in viewers’ imaginations. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "The 7 best TV shows of 2018," 26 Dec. 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.

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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

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Statistics for climax

Last Updated

5 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for climax

The first known use of climax was circa 1538

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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

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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).


an enemy or opponent

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