cru·​ci·​ble | \ ˈkrü-sə-bəl How to pronounce crucible (audio) \

Definition of crucible

1 : a vessel of a very refractory (see refractory entry 1 sense 3) material (such as porcelain) used for melting and calcining a substance that requires a high degree of heat
2 : a severe test He's ready to face the crucible of the Olympics.
3 : a place or situation in which concentrated forces interact to cause or influence change or development … conditioned by having grown up within the crucible of Chinatown …— Tom Wolfe His character was formed in the crucible of war.

Synonyms for crucible


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Crucible looks like it should be closely related to the Latin combining form cruc- ("cross"), but it isn't. It was forged from the Medieval Latin crucibulum, a noun for an earthen pot used to melt metals, and in English it first referred to a vessel made of a very heat-resistant material (such as porcelain) used for melting a substance that requires a high degree of heat. But the resemblance between cruc- and crucible probably encouraged people to start using crucible to mean "a severe trial." That sense is synonymous with one meaning of cross, a word that is related to cruc-. The newest sense of crucible ("a situation in which great changes take place"—as in "forged in the crucible of war") recalls the fire and heat that would be encountered in the original heat-resistant pot.

Examples of crucible in a Sentence

He's ready to face the crucible of the Olympics. His character was formed in the crucible of war.
Recent Examples on the Web Without the crucible of having to obsess about the problem night and day with tight resource constraints, no one feels the ownership and pressure to actually deliver the competitive technology. Tom Wilde, Forbes, 30 June 2022 Think of sport as a giant Marshmallow Test, both in the immediate crucible of competition and in the broader picture of adhering to a rigorous training plan rather than vegging on the sofa. Alex Hutchinson, Outside Online, 18 June 2022 Writer-director Andrew Semans adds heat upon heat in a near-surreal psychological crucible, arriving at one of those WTF endings. Joshua Rothkopf,, 13 May 2022 Baseball’s charm – and its greatest glories – have always been tied to the grind itself, a six-month crucible of a season that weeded out pretenders and rewarded sustained excellence. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, 11 Mar. 2022 Add to that the constant debates on which practical and affordable health safety protocols to implement, recurrent case surges and updates to health recommendations creates a crucible of challenges for churches. Mark Nichols, ABC News, 26 Feb. 2022 It’s an arresting welcome that evokes the dislocation of an ocean crossing, challenging visitors to navigate a world forged in the crucible of the Black Atlantic. Julian Lucas, The New Yorker, 4 May 2022 Playing as a freshman in the crucible of the Southeastern Conference is a lofty goal. al, 23 Mar. 2022 This is a young U.S. men’s national team program in transition, exorcising the ghosts of 2018, reshaping its identity with players who bolted for the crucible of European football as teens instead of the security of Major League Soccer. Mark Zeigler, San Diego Union-Tribune, 1 Apr. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'crucible.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of crucible

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for crucible

Middle English corusible, from Medieval Latin crucibulum earthen pot for melting metals

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The first known use of crucible was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near crucible

cruciate ligament


crucible furnace

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Last Updated

20 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Crucible.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for crucible


cru·​ci·​ble | \ ˈkrü-sə-bəl How to pronounce crucible (audio) \

Kids Definition of crucible

: a pot in which metals or other substances are heated to a very high temperature or melted


cru·​ci·​ble | \ ˈkrü-sə-bəl How to pronounce crucible (audio) \

Medical Definition of crucible

: a vessel of a very refractory material (as porcelain) used for melting and calcining a substance that requires a high degree of heat

More from Merriam-Webster on crucible

Nglish: Translation of crucible for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of crucible for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about crucible


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