crisis

noun
cri·sis | \ˈkrī-səs \
plural crises\ˈkrī-ˌsēz \

Definition of crisis 

(Entry 1 of 2)

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

Keep scrolling for more

Choose the Right Synonym for crisis

Noun

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

Noun

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Even its most ardent defenders admit that the NHS is in crisis. Sally C. Pipes, Fortune, "Why Does the Left Want Universal Health Care? Britain’s Is on Its Deathbed," 10 July 2018 Addiction and incarceration The correctional system is a critical player in the opioid crisis. Felice J. Freyer, BostonGlobe.com, "Addicted people often end up in jail. That can be deadly for them," 9 July 2018 This isn't the first time Musk has offered to aid relief efforts in a global crisis. Ashley Wong, USA TODAY, "Elon Musk is sending a team to Thailand to help with cave rescue," 6 July 2018 Arrests were still more than double from 16,077 in June 2017, but the sharp decline from spring could undercut the Trump administration's narrative of a border in crisis. Elliott Spagat, azcentral, "Border Patrol arrests drop sharply in June," 2 July 2018 Many consider this detainment just as intolerable as the previous policy, which still does not grant amnesty for immigrants who leave countries in crisis. refinery29.com, "Here's How Celebrities Are Helping At The Border," 25 June 2018 Detoxing in the waiting room at a crisis center or an emergency room, or trying to navigate treatment options while dealing with nausea, vomiting, craving and cramps, all can squelch the strongest desire for sobriety. Aubrey Whelan, Philly.com, "Philadelphia hopes this 24-hour treatment center will save lives in the opioid crisis," 11 July 2018 Drag this out long enough, and it'll eventually get forgotten amid the next crisis at City Hall, right? Jason Williams, Cincinnati.com, "PX column: Time's up for Jeff Pastor's campaign finance report. Is an investigation coming?," 11 July 2018 You will be routed to a local crisis center where professionals can talk you through a risk assessment and provide resources in your community. Stefanie Loh, The Seattle Times, "WSU quarterback Tyler Hilinski had signs of CTE at suicide, family says," 26 June 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.

See More

First Known Use of crisis

Noun

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

History and Etymology for crisis

Noun

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about crisis

Phrases Related to crisis

hostage crisis

Statistics for crisis

Last Updated

12 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for crisis

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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 \
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 \
plural crises\-ˌsēz \

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on crisis

What made you want to look up crisis? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a state of commotion or excitement

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!