crucible

noun

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

Did you know?

Unless you’re studying Arthur Miller’s The Crucible in school, it may not be crucial to learn the story behind crucible, but it can’t hurt! Crucible looks like it should be closely related to the Latin combining form cruc- (“cross”); however, unlike crucial, it isn’t. It was forged instead 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. It’s possible that the resemblance between cruc- and crucible encouraged people to start using crucible to mean “a severe trial,” as that sense is synonymous with one meaning of cross, but the idea of simmering in a literal crucible also sounds plenty severe. 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 required to transform some solids into liquids.

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 These are the crucibles where new ideas are forged and shaped. 6. Niki St Pierre, Forbes, 15 Feb. 2024 Goldstein’s visceral arrival to her crucible pays off with a calming honesty. David John Chávez, The Mercury News, 30 Jan. 2024 The real crucible for internationalist Republicans may be the debate over sustaining aid to Ukraine. Gerald F. Seib, Foreign Affairs, 9 Jan. 2024 Georgia Tech Researchers Create First Functional Graphene Semiconductor This heating step is done with an argon quartz tube in which a stack of two SiC chips are placed in a graphite crucible, according to de Heer. IEEE Spectrum, 18 Jan. 2024 Eduardo Galvan is a lifelong skater who grew up in Venice, one of the sport’s crucibles. Connor Sheets, Los Angeles Times, 11 Jan. 2024 And in that crucible of compatibility, resentments can quietly build up and friendships sour. Claire Cohen, Vogue, 7 Dec. 2023 In the decades before the Civil War, Stevens’ corner of southeastern Pennsylvania was a crucible of pro-slavery and antislavery forces. Tracy Schorn, Smithsonian Magazine, 1 Dec. 2023 Ayodhya was the crucible that led to the ascendancy of Hindu nationalism in India. Aatish Taseer, New York Times, 9 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'crucible.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

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Dictionary Entries Near crucible

Cite this Entry

“Crucible.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/crucible. Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

crucible

noun
cru·​ci·​ble ˈkrü-sə-bəl How to pronounce crucible (audio)
1
: a pot made of a substance not easily damaged by fire that is used for holding something to be treated under great heat
2
: a severe test

Medical Definition

crucible

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

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