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

Getty ImagesNBC That said, Michael’s second season midlife (well, mid-afterlife) crisis was a great gateway through which to explore components of existentialism (while simultaneously advancing the plot). Anne T. Donahue, Marie Claire, "How Accurate Is The Good Place's Philosophy?," 31 Jan. 2019 The crisis 17 years ago was so bad that one of every five Argentines was out of work and more than half of the population fell into poverty. Almudena Calatrava, Fox News, "Argentines seek soup kitchens, barter markets amid crisis," 10 Sep. 2018 Maduro has refused all economic assistance, denying there is an economic crisis in Venezuela — and contending the aid is part of a coup being orchestrated by the White House to topple him. Scott Smith, The Seattle Times, "Venezuela’s crisis hits stand-still over emergency aid," 12 Feb. 2019 In the spring, Facebook was rocked by the biggest public relations crisis in its history — the Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal. Casey Newton, The Verge, "The Verge 2018 tech report card: Facebook," 26 Dec. 2018 The town is deserted, save for an old woman who makes Jughead hip to the drug crisis in town — first Jingle Jangle, then Fizzle Rocks (candy laced with drugs) — and Gargoyle King/G&G symbols painted on seemingly every surface possible. Jessica Macleish, Teen Vogue, ""Riverdale" Recap Season 3 Episode 7: Why Has No One Noticed Betty Is Missing?," 6 Dec. 2018 The chase lands him in the middle of crisis after crisis in Washington, Syria, and Paris, each one packed with some combination of blood, fire, and artillery. Ryan D'agostino, Popular Mechanics, "Three Great New Shows About Veterans to Watch This Weekend," 9 Nov. 2018 Never mind the policy issues at play amid an ongoing government shutdown, a slumping stock market, and a border crisis in which two migrant children have died while in U.S. custody. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, "Have We Learned Nothing From 2016 About How to Cover Women in Politics?," 3 Jan. 2019 The conflict has spurred a massive humanitarian crisis, leaving more than 12 million people on the brink of starvation and in desperate need of assistance. Amanda Sakuma, Vox, "Saudi Arabia is reportedly outsourcing its war in Yemen to child soldiers," 30 Dec. 2018

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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Statistics for crisis

Last Updated

16 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for crisis

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

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More Definitions for crisis

crisis

noun

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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More from Merriam-Webster on crisis

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with crisis

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for crisis

Spanish Central: Translation of crisis

Nglish: Translation of crisis for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of crisis for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about crisis

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