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 But when the coronavirus crisis largely closed down operations at D.C. Superior Court, the trial was postponed. Washington Post, "Resumption of jury trials in D.C. Superior Court remains uncertain as victims, families long for justice," 23 Oct. 2020 Maybe things will turn out just right for the stock market following the election, with the economy soon putting the coronavirus crisis behind it and profits coming back strong. Justin Lahart, WSJ, "Investors, It’s Too Soon for an Election Night Party," 23 Oct. 2020 Like virtually all of his colleagues, Sklar saw a year's worth of planned work essentially evaporate overnight at the dawn of the coronavirus crisis. Piet Levy, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee-born bass legend Leland Sklar keeps busy during pandemic with YouTube channel, new band, coffee table book," 23 Oct. 2020 Some hospitals have postponed cancer surgeries because of the coronavirus crisis. Dhruv Khullar, The New Yorker, "How Trump Became the Pro-Infection Candidate," 23 Oct. 2020 But with the coronavirus crisis still a threat, restaurants are considering ways to use heated temporary structures as the weather grows cold. Cliff Pinckard, cleveland, "Ohio ends monthly inspections of Cuyahoga jail: The Wake Up for Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020," 22 Oct. 2020 Airbus, based in Toulouse, France, and U.S. rival Boeing Co. have been negotiating intensely with airlines and lessors who found themselves in sudden distress this year when the coronavirus crisis flattened revenue. Charlotte Ryan, Bloomberg.com, "Airbus Sets Plan to Gear Up Production in Show of Confidence," 22 Oct. 2020 Such assessments help account for China’s apparent economic rebound in the months since the lockdowns in Hubei province at the nadir of the coronavirus crisis. Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner, "COVID mask sales to West help China's economy recover from coronavirus," 19 Oct. 2020 Republicans went door to door and set up booths at gun shows and supermarkets despite the coronavirus crisis. Stephanie Saul, New York Times, "Behind in Polls, Republicans See a Silver Lining in Voter Registrations," 19 Oct. 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

27 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Crisis.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/crisis. Accessed 27 Oct. 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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Comments on crisis

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