crisis

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

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

On Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was in Concord, N.H., touting a federal plan to get tougher on fentanyl dealers in cities hit hardest by the opiate abuse crisis. Yvonne Abraham, BostonGlobe.com, "The truth about Lawrence," 14 July 2018 The plot centers on four friends from high school who are forced to reconnect following a crisis. Niki Mcgloster, Essence.com, "The Quick Read: Gabrielle Union Opens Up About Miscarriages and Fertility Issues," 13 July 2018 Daunting Task The Prepa crisis comes at a critical time. Fortune, "Puerto Rico's Bankrupt Utility Has No Leader After Pay Scandal," 12 July 2018 The work symbolizes the Monarchs’ remarkable multi-generational trans-American journey and recalls the movements of humankind that preceded national boundaries – and our current border crisis. George Fishman, miamiherald, "Monarchs ‘Brown and Native’ butterfly exhibit a response to contemporary events," 13 July 2018 Despite the crisis in the U.K., some Americans continue to be entranced by single-payer. Sally C. Pipes, Fortune, "Why Does the Left Want Universal Health Care? Britain’s Is on Its Deathbed," 10 July 2018 The plan being devised by the United States will focus on resolving the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip prior to dealing with the other cardinal issues involved in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Jewish Journal, "Palestinian Authority outraged as White House says it will push regional peace plan," 10 July 2018 Only by exhuming it and addressing it can America address its perpetual crisis with race. Joe Heim, Washington Post, "Sacred ground, now reclaimed: A Charlottesville story," 7 July 2018 The study also found that Chipotle has not fully bounced back from their food safety crisis in 2016, earning a score of 79, while Taco Bell has dropped 3 percent for a 74. Caroline Judelson, Fox News, "Chick-fil-A holds lead as top fast-food restaurant for third year; Cracker Barrel no longer first in full-service," 6 July 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

9 Nov 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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