crucible

noun
cru·​ci·​ble | \ˈkrü-sə-bəl \

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

When the crucibles cooled, ingots of pure steel lay inside. Jonathan Schifman, Popular Mechanics, "The Entire History of Steel," 9 July 2018 The key was a clay receptacle for the molten metal: a crucible. Jonathan Schifman, Popular Mechanics, "The Entire History of Steel," 9 July 2018 The debate over that conflict was the crucible in which IfNotNow was born. Abraham Riesman, Daily Intelligencer, "Can the young activists of IfNotNow change the conversation about Israel and the Palestinians, or will their contradictions hold them back?," 12 July 2018 To hear the orchestra tell it, the tour was a crucible with some important gains immediately apparent, and others perhaps to come. Peter Dobrin, Philly.com, "The Philadelphia Orchestra's tour of Europe and Israel is done: What did we learn?," 15 June 2018 For Pratt, Mars serves as the crucible in which NASA’s future planetary protection policies are being forged. Leonard David, Scientific American, "As Space Becomes a Busy Place, NASA Bolsters Its Planet-Contamination Police," 3 July 2018 On Monday night, that sad fate befell the Rockets, who disintegrated in the crucible of the postseason. Scott Cacciola, New York Times, "Over, Easy: A Basketball Aficionado Foresees the Warriors’ Surge Past the Rockets," 29 May 2018 Look no further than this season’s Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets to appreciate the outsize impact switching can have in the crucible of the conference finals. Jeremy Woo, SI.com, "NBA Draft Debates: Marvin Bagley III, Mohamed Bamba or Jaren Jackson Jr?," 25 May 2018 Rhodes was also a Deputy National Security Adviser, who saw his liberal interventionist leanings tested amid the crucible of the Arab Spring. Benjamin Hart, Daily Intelligencer, "A Decade at Obama’s Side: An Interview With Ben Rhodes," 17 June 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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Statistics for crucible

Last Updated

28 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

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

: a difficult test or challenge

: a place or situation that forces people to change or make difficult decisions

crucible

noun
cru·​ci·​ble | \ˈkrü-sə-bəl \

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 \

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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Comments on crucible

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