cli·​max | \ ˈklī-ˌmaks \

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

Yakuza 6 Sega; PS4 Further Reading Yakuza 6: The Song of Life review: Grandpa battle simulator The long-running Yakuza franchise reached a climax this year. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Ars Technica’s best games of 2018," 24 Dec. 2018 Tensions reached a climax this summer when the head of the U.N. migration agency was forced to leave Sanaa after clashing with the Houthi administration. Declan Walsh, The Seattle Times, "The tragedy of Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen," 26 Oct. 2018 Serial multiple: Orgasms are separated by seconds or just a minute. May feel like one long climax with spasms of varying intensity — like a solid strand of pearls. Kimberly Dawn Neumann, Redbook, "Yes, You Can Double Your Pleasure In Bed," 16 Oct. 2017 The emotional climax of the book comes when Mr. Choudhury’s weddedness to Calcutta comes at the expense of harmony with his wife. Maya Jasanoff, WSJ, "‘The Epic City’ Review: From Calcutta to Kolkata," 23 Mar. 2018 The 14-month journey was not an easy one, but the climax came when suffragists worked tirelessly to secure the 36th state ratification required. Zlati Meyer, USA TODAY, "During Women's History Month, book looks at the fight 'to win the vote'," 6 Mar. 2018 Marion argues that people can live fulfilling lives regardless of their social position, and her monologue, one of the longest in the series, summarizes Fassbinder's perspective and provides a stirring climax. Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader, "When Rainer Werner Fassbinder cheered up," 17 May 2018 And then there’s that climax, too stunning to diminish by description. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, "Sublime Domesticity: The Intimate Grandeur That Is ‘Roma’," 21 Nov. 2018 During the climax of the play, Monroe moves to the center of the performance space and uses a sledgehammer to pound on a massive tractor tire laid on its side, generating a surprisingly deep throbbing sound. Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader, "Music / Post No Bills / Theater / Arts Facility Theatre transforms The Little Match Girl Passion from a vocal piece into a meticulously pitched spectacle," 19 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 The book recounts the glorious career of Greg LeMond, probably the greatest American cyclist of the modern era, climaxing with his comeback from near death and miraculous victory at the 1989 Tour de France. Daniel De Vise, Chicago Reader, "How two Belgian boys became the youngest kids to bike across the U.S.—in 1935," 21 June 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

11 Jan 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 \

Kids Definition of climax

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


cli·​max | \ ˈklī-ˌmaks \

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).


a complex dispute or argument

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