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.

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Synonyms for crucible

Synonyms

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

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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

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 Mostly, Will gets to work, or rather Mr. Johnson does, as the character undergoes the hero’s crucible of suffering with throbbing muscles, an impressive deadpan and yards of duct tape. New York Times, "Review: In ‘Skyscraper,’ Dwayne Johnson Scales a Tower of Clichés," 11 July 2018 France also has benefitted from a development crucible. Brian Straus, SI.com, "Quarterfinal Stage a Narrative Tipping Point for World Cup Contenders," 5 July 2018 Activists go even further, saying the monuments are crucibles of intimidation and a selective telling of history. Shaun Assael, Glamour, "The Secret Fight to Save Confederate Monuments," 16 Aug. 2018 When the crucibles cooled, ingots of pure steel lay inside. Jonathan Schifman, Popular Mechanics, "The Entire History of Steel," 9 July 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.

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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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Time Traveler for crucible

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

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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

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