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

Too many leaders in a position to impact student debt dismiss or deny the seriousness of the crisis. Dan Rosensweig, Fortune, "There Are Concrete Ways Businesses Can Help Lower Student Debt," 17 Sep. 2019 Saudi Arabia keeps several million barrels of oil in storage for potential moments of crises, and President Trump already has said the U.S. is willing to pull from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Jordan Blum, Houston Chronicle, "Oil spikes nearly 15% on Saudi attack, heightened tensions with Iran," 16 Sep. 2019 Others, like binge drinking, have been around for decades, but the nature of the crisis has evolved. Christina Capatides, CBS News, "American kids with money and privilege are more likely to binge drink," 15 Sep. 2019 In one essay from her acclaimed new book Trick Mirror, writer Jia Tolentino posits that thanks to the financial crisis, scamming has become the millennial ethos. Christian Holub, EW.com, "Everything you need to know about Hustlers," 13 Sep. 2019 For many African-Americans and Latinos, the hardships of the mortgage crisis haven’t stopped. Emily Deruy, The Mercury News, "California attorney general joins Oakland’s suit against Wells Fargo for predatory lending," 12 Sep. 2019 The movie opens on Major Roy McBride (Pitt), a cool and collected man whose heart rate never exceeds eighty beats per minute, even in moments of crisis. Nathan Heller, The New Yorker, "James Gray’s Journey from the Outer Boroughs to Outer Space," 9 Sep. 2019 True quality health care for women is provided by those clinics that help women emotionally, mentally, and physically in their time of crisis. Dp Opinion, The Denver Post, "Letters: An abortion is not health care (9/7/19)," 8 Sep. 2019 Over the course of the next 12 years the couple refinanced the home twice, taking on subprime adjustable rate mortgages — the loans at the heart of the mortgage crisis. Allie Gross, Detroit Free Press, "Lawsuits take aim at Wayne County's controversial Action Before Auction program," 3 Sep. 2019

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

12 Oct 2019

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 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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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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