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cres·​cent ˈkre-sᵊnt How to pronounce crescent (audio)
: the moon at any stage between new moon and first quarter and between last quarter and the succeeding new moon when less than half of the illuminated hemisphere is visible
: the figure of the moon at such a stage defined by a convex (see convex sense 1a) and a concave (see concave entry 1 sense 2) edge
: something shaped like a crescent
The crescent is used as the symbol of Islam.
crescentic adjective


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: marked by an increase : increasing
"My powers are crescent … "William Shakespeare


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Cres·​cent ˈkre-sᵊnt How to pronounce Crescent (audio)
used for an adjustable open-end wrench

Did you know?

You probably know "crescent" as the shape of a moon that is less than half-illuminated. These days, "crescent" is generally used of either a waxing or waning moon, but that wasn't always the case. Originally, it referred only to the increasing illumination phase that immediately follows the new moon. That original meaning nicely reflects the meaning of the word's Latin ancestor crescere, which means "to grow." The meaning of "crescere" also shines through when we use "crescent" as an adjective meaning "increasing" or "growing." English speakers have been using "crescent" in this way since the 16th century.

Examples of crescent in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Unlike most crossbody bags, this one features a crescent shape that offers enough space to carry more than just essentials. Melanie Fincher, Southern Living, 9 Sep. 2023 Wrap with electrical tape until the crescent shape is finished. Emily Vanschmus, Better Homes & Gardens, 10 Aug. 2023 South Carolina The Palmetto Flag with the crescent and blue background has been South Carolina’s flag since Jan. 28, 1861 — five weeks after the state seceded from the Union and kicked off the Civil War. Gillian Brockell, Washington Post, 10 Sep. 2023 Instruments on the telescope will continue to allow astronomers to capture new data and learn more about the crescent structures. Kerry Breen, CBS News, 1 Sep. 2023 The common house mosquito is found in a crescent stretching from eastern Queens to southern Brooklyn to the east tip of Staten Island. Andy Newman, New York Times, 29 Aug. 2023 Just to its left and right are faint crescents newly discovered by Webb. Kerry Breen, CBS News, 1 Sep. 2023 And with the moon in waning crescent (appearing as only a sliver in the sky), conditions this year will be ideal for seeing lots of meteors. Meghan Overdeep, Southern Living, 11 Aug. 2023 This year, viewing conditions are much better: the moon is currently a waning crescent, glowing at only 10% of its maximum brightness. Jeffrey Kluger, Time, 11 Aug. 2023
Off in the southwest, the last colors of sunset lit up the rim of the sky, as a crescent Moon and two planets lined up above. John Timmer, Ars Technica, 25 Jan. 2023 Miley's left arm features a few small permanent drawings, including a crescent moon and tributes to her pets, Pablow (her deceased fish) and Emu (her sheepdog). Yerin Kim, Seventeen, 20 Jan. 2023 The Perseids range from July 17–August 24, and have to compete only with a crescent moon. Manasee Wagh, Popular Mechanics, 18 Jan. 2023 The statue depicts actor Elizabeth Montgomery – as lead character Samantha Stephens in the 1960s sitcom – sitting on a broomstick in front of a crescent moon. From Usa Today Network and Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 23 Sep. 2022 On the reverse is a crescent moon plus a starlike sun. Richard Jakiel, Discover Magazine, 26 June 2019 In a watercolor done in 1790, it has been fashioned into crescent shapes that resemble a pair of rams’ horns that meet in a bulbous clump in the center of her brow. Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker, 5 Jan. 2023 Along the great crescent sweep of the river, smoke billowed from the pyres that burn night and day. Roger Cohen Mauricio Lima, New York Times, 31 Dec. 2022 Line bottom of pan with one package of crescent dinner rolls. al, 20 Dec. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'crescent.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Latinization of Middle English cressant, cressaunt, borrowed from Anglo-French, noun derivative from present participle of creistre "to increase, grow," going back to Latin crēscere "to come into existence, increase in size or numbers," perhaps going back to Indo-European *kreh1- "become stronger, increase," whence also Slavic *krějǫ, *krějati (whence Old Czech křáti, kříti "to recover, regain strength," Russian dialect krejátʼ "to convalesce, get well," Ukrainian krijáty "to regain strength," Bulgarian kréja "weaken, wither"—sense perhaps by loss of an earlier privative prefix)

Note: Latin crēscere and creāre (see create entry 1) have traditionally been linked to Indo-European *ḱerh3- "feed, satisfy" (see ceres), but this has recently been questioned on both morphological and semantic grounds. Cf. Michiel de Vaan, Etymological Dictionary of Latin and the Other Italic Languages, Leiden, 2008; Oleg Trubačev, Ètimologičeskij slovarʼ slavjanskix jazykov: praslavjanskij leksičeskij fond, Vypusk 12 (Moscow, 1985), pp. 130-31; and in particular Eugen Hill, "Lateinisch crēscō 'wachsen' etymologisch: urslavisch *krějǫ 'genesen', litauisch šeriù 'füttern' oder armenisch serem 'erzeugen'?", International Journal of Diachronic Linguistics and Linguistic Reconstruction, vol. 3 (2006), pp. 187-209, where the issues are thoroughly discussed.


borrowed from Latin crēscent-, crescēns, present participle of crēscere "to come into existence, increase in size or numbers" — more at crescent entry 1

First Known Use


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1574, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of crescent was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near crescent

Cite this Entry

“Crescent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


: the shape of the visible moon during about the first week after a new moon or the last week before the next new moon
: a curved figure that tapers to two points like a crescent moon
: something shaped like a crescent

Medical Definition


cres·​cent ˈkres-ᵊnt How to pronounce crescent (audio)
: a crescent-shaped anatomical structure or section
: the gametocyte of the falciparum malaria parasite that is shaped like a crescent and constitutes a distinguishing character of malignant tertian malaria

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