\ ˈkrəks , ˈkru̇ks \
plural cruxes also cruces\ˈkrü-ˌsēz \

Definition of crux 

1 : a puzzling or difficult problem : an unsolved question The origin of the word is a scholarly crux.

2 : an essential point requiring resolution or resolving an outcome

3 : a main or central feature (as of an argument) … he discarded all but the essential cruxes of his argument. —Carl Van Doren

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Did You Know?

In Latin, crux referred literally to an instrument of torture, often a cross or stake, and figuratively to the torture and misery inflicted by means of such an instrument. Crux eventually developed the sense of "a puzzling or difficult problem"; that was the first meaning that was used when the word entered English in the early 18th century. Later, in the late 19th century, crux began to be used more specifically to refer to an essential point of a legal case that required resolution before the case as a whole could be resolved. Today, the verdict on crux is that it can be used to refer to any important part of a problem or argument, inside or outside of the courtroom.

Examples of crux in a Sentence

the crux of the problem is that the school's current budget is totally inadequate

Recent Examples on the Web

Because this is the crux of the matter: Spurring positive change in the community is a bedrock of local journalism. San Francisco Chronicle, "Faded luster," 1 Apr. 2018 Both sides agree the crux of the issue is the mandatory staffing that exists in the current contract Valenzuela said on Friday that many of his workers commute from the Los Angeles area, and do so because they are guaranteed work. Tod Leonard,, "Pari-Mutuel workers vote to strike in buildup to Del Mar opener," 13 July 2018 According to the latest Times report, this seems to be the crux of the strategy — delay until the midterms and damage the investigation’s credibility. Jen Kirby, Vox, "Giuliani: Mueller can interview Trump if he can prove the president committed a crime," 7 July 2018 The crux of Volunteering Untapped is the idea that volunteering should be easy. Shelbie Lynn Bostedt, RedEye Chicago, "Do good then drink beer with Volunteering Untapped," 3 May 2017 But while the crux of Grey Gardens is the real relationship between the two Edies—memorialized by the Maysles brothers in their 1975 documentary—here Wright is forced to bounce back and forth from one woman to the other. Jesse Oxfeld, Town & Country, "Christine Ebersole and Patti LuPone Go Head to Head in the New Musical War Paint," 7 Apr. 2017 At the crux of this is basically a homeowners’ rights issue. Amy Lieu, Fox News, "Battles between smokers, nonsmokers may be heating up," 11 July 2018 At the crux of the debate was whether the complex planned near the intersection of Higley and Baseline roads met the town's criteria to build a multifamily property in a commercial zoning district. Lily Altavena, azcentral, "Developer drops plans for controversial Gilbert four-story apartment complex," 25 June 2018 The crux of the court case is the interpretation of who has the right to Canadian citizenship. Alan Freeman, Washington Post, "Their Russian-spy parents were fake Americans. Now they want to be real Canadians.," 8 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'crux.' 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 crux

1718, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for crux

Latin cruc-, crux cross, torture

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Phrases Related to crux

the crux

Statistics for crux

Last Updated

14 Aug 2018

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Time Traveler for crux

The first known use of crux was in 1718

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the setting in which something occurs

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