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
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

Noun 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. Verb 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 The triple-forte climax of the passage was marked by a groaningly obvious sequence of explosions on the screen. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, "Operatic Shows of Force," 6 Jan. 2020 With his legal and Washington background, Mr. Graham began life in journalism at the top in 1965, as the first lawyer hired to be The Times’s Supreme Court correspondent, a job most reporters today would consider the climax of a career. Robert D. Mcfadden, New York Times, "Fred P. Graham, Legal Affairs Reporter and Court TV Anchor, Dies at 88," 28 Dec. 2019 The climax of his story has yet to be written, but the chapter developed during two years in Indiana continues to grow alongside the tale’s protagonist. Nathan Brown, Indianapolis Star, "In Pacers return, Bojan Bogdanovic epitomized growth his two years in Indiana helped cultivate," 28 Nov. 2019 The Agincourt battle remains the climax of the film, and Mr Michôd delivers a thrilling mix of mud and blood. The Economist, "Lenity and cruelty “The King” is a timely examination of the corrupting influence of power," 4 Nov. 2019 The climax of Lucy in the Sky also involves the protagonist heading on an ill-fated interstate drive but with key differences from Nowak’s—mainly the exclusion of the headline-grabbing diapers. Gina Martinez, Time, "Lucy in the Sky," 3 Oct. 2019 Shula’s 1965 Baltimore Colts improbably lost both starting quarterback Johnny Unitas and back-up Gary Cuozzo right before the climax of their season., "A History of Football in 100 Objects," 28 Aug. 2019 The verdict marks the climax of a bizarre crime saga involving a grisly mutilation, a law enforcement effort to trick a fugitive out of hiding and a brazen escape from the Santa Ana jail. Julia Wickstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: Essential California Week in Review: California sues Trump over ‘public charge’ rule," 17 Aug. 2019 That watershed moment in world history on July 20, 1969, the climax of America’s ambitious quest to win the space race, happened four days after the spacecraft launched from Kennedy Space Center. Phillip Valys,, "Space out with Apollo 11 50th anniversary events at South Florida museums," 15 July 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Devine’s homage to the old-school variety show then climaxed with a full marching band, a yeti with confetti and a stilt-walking Larry King impersonator. Glenn Rowley, Billboard, "Adam Devine Delivers a Song-and-Dance Homage to Variety Shows at 2019 Emmy Awards: Watch," 23 Sep. 2019 That climaxes here in the scene when Jon is talking to Will and Angela at once, 10 years apart. Christian Holub,, "Watchmen director breaks down that mind-blowing Doctor Manhattan episode," 9 Dec. 2019 Russia was barred from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar— the latest punishments for a doping program that climaxed at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia. Grant Clark And Henry Meyer | Bloomberg, Washington Post, "Sport, Drugs and Cheating," 9 Dec. 2019 Most memorably of all, the run climaxed with college basketball’s signature shot of the decade, the unforgettable, ice-cold, buzzer-beating three by Jenkins to down North Carolina in the national championship. Dan Greene,, "Ranking the College Basketball National Champions of the Decade," 2 Oct. 2019 The political tension between the two countries climaxed in February when Rwanda closed its border and blocked all goods from Uganda. Washington Post, "2 Ugandans killed in Rwanda amid border tension," 10 Nov. 2019 The family-friendly carnival climaxes a week of satellite parties in Broward, including a Panorama steelpan competition on Oct. 11 and a J’ouvert costumed dance parade on Oct. 12, both at Central Broward Regional Park in Lauderhill. Phillip Valys,, "Miami Carnival: Splashy paint parties, parades and masquerades ring in Caribbean celebrations across South Florida," 10 Oct. 2019 The plot climaxes with Posh taking the wheel of their tour bus in her strappy stilettos, and saving the day. New York Times, "‘Spice World’ & Me," 23 Aug. 2019 Such stories invariably climax with a great victory or a crushing defeat, a life-changing play right at the buzzer. Chris Jones,, "Review: ‘The Great Leap’ at Steppenwolf Theatre is about basketball in China, even as tanks roll across Tiananmen Square," 16 Sep. 2019

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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Time Traveler for climax

Time Traveler

The first known use of climax was circa 1538

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Statistics for climax

Last Updated

11 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Climax.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 22 January 2020.

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More Definitions for climax


How to pronounce climax (audio)

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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Comments on climax

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