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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The crisis at the Mexican-U.S. border is—as both the statistics and common sense indicate—manufactured hysteria, the work of racist demagoguery. Robert Sullivan, Vogue, "What If There Were No Borders?," 30 Nov. 2018 Parliament has become the center of the political crisis. Bharatha Mallawarachi, The Seattle Times, "Sri Lanka lawmakers linked to disputed PM boycott Parliament," 27 Nov. 2018 At last, a global effort to combat the crisis is making headway. Tyler Wetherall, Condé Nast Traveler, "The All-Women Sailing Crew Trying to Save the Ocean of Plastic," 27 Nov. 2018 So is the opioid crisis and expanding healthcare coverage while stabilizing the cost to families. Jill Filipovic, Harper's BAZAAR, "Your State-by-State Guide to Women Running in the Midterms," 31 Oct. 2018 The hotline runs on contributions and is primarily for those in crisis. Allure, "6 Ways to Support Transgender and Nonbinary People Right Now," 21 Oct. 2018 The incident kicks off a major political crisis between the US and China as Fredericks escapes and goes on the run. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "Read an excerpt from Kim Stanley Robinson’s next book," 18 Oct. 2018 Their itinerary includes a visit to the University of Chichester and stops at both a youth center and a rape crisis service. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Meghan Markle Just Arrived in Sussex Wearing a Green Leather Pencil Skirt," 3 Oct. 2018 The crisis is far from being limited to psychology; many of the problems plague fields from economics to biomedical research. Cathleen O'grady, Ars Technica, "Social science has a complicated, infinitely tricky replication crisis," 28 Aug. 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

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

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Statistics for crisis

Last Updated

7 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

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 \
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

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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

Comments on crisis

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