crisis

noun
cri·​sis | \ ˈkrī-səs How to pronounce crisis (audio) \
plural crises\ ˈkrī-​ˌsēz How to pronounce crisis (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 While airlines drastically reduced their schedules, Keyes knew promoting travel during a global crisis was not the right idea. Alyssa Newcomb, Fortune, "How a scrappy travel startup had its best month ever during the pandemic," 3 Apr. 2021 This is an existential crisis and the Braves failed to meet the moment. Mike Freeman, USA TODAY, "Opinion: The gutless Atlanta Braves put themselves on the wrong side of history," 3 Apr. 2021 The media create the impression that there is an unprecedented crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, with droves of children arriving alone, as well as families flooding to the border. Randi Mandelbaum, The Conversation, "The situation at the US-Mexico border is a crisis – but is it new?," 2 Apr. 2021 In neighboring Lebanon, Christians observed Good Friday under a coronavirus lockdown and amid a severe economic crisis exacerbated by the massive explosion that demolished parts of the capital last year. Joseph Krauss, Chron, "Christians mark Good Friday amid lingering virus woes," 2 Apr. 2021 Citing a devastating housing crisis and attributing most of it to localities’ unwillingness to densify, state legislators have introduced a plethora of bills. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Opinion: Your Say on proposal to eliminate single-family home zoning," 2 Apr. 2021 In neighboring Lebanon, Christians observed Good Friday under a lockdown and suffering a severe economic crisis. BostonGlobe.com, "Christians mark Good Friday, Holy Week under virus woes," 2 Apr. 2021 In neighboring Lebanon, Christians observed Good Friday under a lockdown and suffering a severe economic crisis. Joseph Krauss, Star Tribune, "Christians mark Good Friday, Holy Week under virus woes," 2 Apr. 2021 The increases come as the Biden administration faces a growing crisis at the border with many children and families seeking asylum. Fox News, "Texas ‘stash houses,’ used to hide illegal immigrants, busted as border crackdown continues," 2 Apr. 2021

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

7 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Crisis.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/crisis. Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.

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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 crisis (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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Comments on crisis

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