crucible

noun
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.

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for crucible

Synonyms

cross, fire, gauntlet (also gantlet), ordeal, trial

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Did You Know?

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 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

From the revered crucible of Centre Court and the all-white clothing of the players, to the overnight camping and famous queue for daily tickets, and the elegance of polished notables in the royal box, the atmosphere is quintessentially British. Rob Hodgetts, CNN, "Wimbledon 2019: Britain's tennis love-in and the quest for grand slam glory," 1 July 2019 Of course, what truly motivated Johnson’s enemies were principles of justice and morality forged in the crucible of civil war. Michael Kazin, The New Republic, "The Impossibility of Impeachment," 10 June 2019 In the early summer of 2013, giant protests against Mr. Morsi filled Tahrir Square, the crucible of the 2011 uprising, providing the military with an excuse to oust him. Declan Walsh, New York Times, "Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s First Democratically Elected President, Dies," 17 June 2019 The case has become a crucible focused on soaring housing costs and the future of Oakland’s artists, many of whom reside in warehouses and other unconventional spaces. Hailey Branson-potts, latimes.com, "Ghost Ship trial: A weary dad sits in court every day, missing his daughter," 11 June 2019 Infertility was a crucible, a narrow, exacting path that we never would have chosen for ourselves. Claire Gibson, Marie Claire, "My Long, Messy, Beautifully Complicated Path to Adopting My Son," 1 Oct. 2018 His speech focused on strengthening the European Union to face today’s challenges rather than counting on the U.S. support that had two world wars as a crucible. Sylvie Corbet, The Seattle Times, "France’s Macron turns away from Trump in laying out roadmap," 27 Aug. 2018 His speech focused on strengthening the European Union to face today's challenges rather than counting on the U.S. support that had two world wars as a crucible. Sylvie Corbet, Fox News, "France's Macron turns away from Trump in laying out roadmap," 27 Aug. 2018 On the great stock exchange of Oscar hopes and cinematic reputations, the Toronto International Film Festival is one of those crucibles that decides what is going up and what down. John Powers, Vogue, "Plenty of Movies at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival Got Awards Buzz—But Which Ones Will Go All the Way?," 12 Sep. 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about crucible

Listen to Our Podcast about crucible

Statistics for crucible

Last Updated

8 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for crucible

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for crucible

crucible

noun

English Language Learners Definition of crucible

: a pot in which metals or other substances are heated to a very high temperature or melted
formal + literary : a difficult test or challenge
formal + literary : a place or situation that forces people to change or make difficult decisions

crucible

noun
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

crucible

noun
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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on crucible

What made you want to look up crucible? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a small bunch of flowers

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!