crisis

noun
cri·​sis | \ ˈkrī-səs How to pronounce crisis (audio) \
plural crises\ ˈkrī-​ˌsēz How to pronounce crises (audio) \

Definition of crisis

1a : the turning point for better or worse in an acute disease or fever
b : a paroxysmal attack of pain, distress, or disordered function
c : an emotionally significant event or radical change of status in a person's life a midlife crisis
2 : the decisive moment (as in a literary plot) The crisis of the play occurs in Act 3.
3a : an unstable or crucial time or state of affairs in which a decisive change is impending especially : one with the distinct possibility of a highly undesirable outcome a financial crisis the nation's energy crisis
b : a situation that has reached a critical phase the environmental crisis the unemployment crisis

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Choose the Right Synonym for crisis

juncture, exigency, emergency, contingency, pinch, strait (or straits) crisis mean a critical or crucial time or state of affairs. juncture stresses the significant concurrence or convergence of events. an important juncture in our country's history exigency stresses the pressure of restrictions or urgency of demands created by a special situation. provide for exigencies emergency applies to a sudden unforeseen situation requiring prompt action to avoid disaster. the presence of mind needed to deal with emergencies contingency implies an emergency or exigency that is regarded as possible but uncertain of occurrence. contingency plans pinch implies urgency or pressure for action to a less intense degree than exigency or emergency. come through in a pinch strait, now commonly straits, applies to a troublesome situation from which escape is extremely difficult. in dire straits crisis applies to a juncture whose outcome will make a decisive difference. a crisis of confidence

Semantic Crisis Intervention

Some people are bothered by changes in a word’s meaning (see: literally), while others have a more relaxed attitude towards semantic drift. For those who feel vexed when a word seems to have suddenly changed its spots, it may be of some comfort to know that words in English do this all the time; crisis is a fine example. Originally, crisis denoted “the turning point for better or worse in an acute disease or fever.” Now it most commonly means “a difficult or dangerous situation that needs serious attention,” yet few people insist that it should be used exclusively in its older meaning. The normality of semantic change can be seen in another word that first appeared in febrile contexts: hectic, which now is primarily used to mean “very busy,” originally referred to a fever that was fluctuating but recurrent.

Examples of crisis in a Sentence

She was dealing with a family crisis at the time. Most people blame the government for the country's worsening economic crisis. last year's state budget crisis In times of national crisis, we need strong leaders we can trust. A year ago, both companies were in crisis.
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Recent Examples on the Web Sign up here to follow key developments in the oil crisis and get regular updates in your inbox. Grant Smith, Bloomberg.com, "OPEC and Allies Prepare to Pump More Oil Just as Market Recovery Teeters," 31 July 2020 Libraries in Colombia have a rich history of coming to the service of communities in crisis, and this project, created by a network of libraries known as Comfenalco, is just the latest iteration. Whitney Eulich, The Christian Science Monitor, "Pandemic pen pals: How Colombian libraries lift spirits," 30 July 2020 As important, the ban on exotic mortgages and unduly high fees, thought to be responsible for about half the defaults in the last crisis, will still apply broadly across the market. Tim Fernholz, Quartz, "Trump is making home loans riskier during a housing crisis," 28 July 2020 One of the main benefits of the app was that everybody in the chain of support knew the PIN’s name in advance, which generally made the person in crisis feel a lot safer. Annalee Newitz, SFChronicle.com, "‘I’m with Muni — how can I help?’ Annalee Newitz’s short fiction imagines a new kind of social support system in SF," 12 July 2020 With the country in crisis, some polls have shown Añez in last place in a three-way presidential race leading to September elections. Author: Michael Weissenstein And David Biller, Anchorage Daily News, "COVID hits dozens of Latin leaders, including presidents," 11 July 2020 Banks’ revenue streams have remained much healthier in this crisis than in previous ones, Credit Suisse Group AG said in a report. Fortune, "Top U.S. banks set for worst quarter since financial crisis," 10 July 2020 When dealing with friends in crisis, Millsap advises people not to overthink it. Washington Post, "How to help when a parent friend faces a crisis," 10 July 2020 In most industries, service revenues are the kind of resilient income stream companies want in a crisis. Jon Sindreu, WSJ, "Rolls-Royce Is the Avatar for All of Aviation’s Gloom," 9 July 2020

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

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

History and Etymology for crisis

Middle English crise, crisis, borrowed from Latin crisis "judgment, critical stage," borrowed from Greek krísis "act of separating, decision, judgment, event, outcome, turning point, sudden change," from kri-, variant stem of krī́nein "to separate, choose, decide, judge" + -sis, suffix forming nouns of action or process — more at certain entry 1

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Time Traveler for crisis

Time Traveler

The first known use of crisis was in the 15th century

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Statistics for crisis

Last Updated

4 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Crisis.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/crisis. Accessed 6 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for crisis

crisis

noun
How to pronounce crisis (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of crisis

: a difficult or dangerous situation that needs serious attention

crisis

noun
cri·​sis | \ ˈkrī-səs How to pronounce crisis (audio) \
plural crises\ ˈkrī-​ˌsēz \

Kids Definition of crisis

: a difficult or dangerous situation that needs serious attention a medical crisis

crisis

noun
cri·​sis | \ ˈkrī-səs How to pronounce crisis (audio) \
plural crises\ -​ˌsēz How to pronounce crises (audio) \

Medical Definition of crisis

1 : the turning point for better or worse in an acute disease or fever especially : a sudden turn for the better (as sudden abatement in severity of symptoms or abrupt drop in temperature) — compare lysis sense 1
2 : a paroxysmal attack of pain, distress, or disordered function tabetic crisis cardiac crisis
3 : an emotionally significant event or radical change of status in a person's life
4 : a psychological or social condition characterized by unusual instability caused by excessive stress and either endangering or felt to endanger the continuity of an individual or group especially : such a social condition requiring the transformation of cultural patterns and values

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