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 Cooking is caring for families, a means to earn money by selling meals to other migrants, an expression of human dignity to sustain spirits while living through a brutal humanitarian crisis that worsens by the day. Michelle García, Bon Appétit, "In the Midst of a Border Crisis, Cooking Is About More Than Survival," 13 Feb. 2020 Been There Dear Been There: Re-entry is so hard after a personal crisis. Amy Dickinson, oregonlive, "Ask Amy: DNA discoveries unearth family secrets and ethical dilemmas," 12 Feb. 2020 With support from Russia, Syrian troops have been on the offensive for weeks in Idlib and parts of nearby Aleppo provinces, unleashing a humanitarian crisis with 700,000 people fleeing their homes and surging north toward the Turkish border. Andrew Wilks, BostonGlobe.com, "US troops clash with progovernment group in northeast Syria," 12 Feb. 2020 A century after Lu Xun imagined the suffocations of the iron house, China is besieged by a modern crisis of body and spirit, an epidemic that has threatened its people and underscored the perils of a suffocating politics. Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, "China’s ‘Iron House’: Struggling Over Silence in the Coronavirus Epidemic," 12 Feb. 2020 More than half a million Syrians are believed to have been displaced by the conflict in the last two months, and U.S. officials are concerned about a refugee crisis. Conor Finnegan, ABC News, "US forces come under fire while on patrol in Syria," 12 Feb. 2020 Or hit a ceiling, or hate your job or have a crisis. NBC News, "Lesley Jane Seymour's comeback career story will inspire you to find your dream job," 12 Feb. 2020 In the midst of all of this, a potential crisis simmers in the shadows: The global dependence on China for the production of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment. Andrew Natsios, The Conversation, "The silent threat of the coronavirus: America’s dependence on Chinese pharmaceuticals," 11 Feb. 2020 The total of 36,679 is down from 144,116 last May, an influx that created a humanitarian crisis. Anna Giaritelli, Washington Examiner, "Southern border officials in January handled fewest number of crossing attempts in 24 months," 11 Feb. 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

16 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Crisis.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/crisis. Accessed 26 Feb. 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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