\ ˈkrəks How to pronounce crux (audio) , ˈkru̇ks How to pronounce crux (audio) \
plural cruxes also cruces\ ˈkrü-​ˌsēz How to pronounce crux (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

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 Still, the crux of each story line is similar: A school-age girl named Saya is charged, for one reason or another, with hunting a species of blood-eating monsters. John Maher, Vulture, 4 June 2021 The crux of his effort will be the remote section from Sequoia National Park through Yosemite National Park, where the PCT merges with the famously majestic John Muir Trail for 160 miles. Outside Online, 1 June 2021 The details might differ—mild dementia, children too busy to visit, loss of leg function, no living relatives—but the crux of the matter was the same. Rachel Heng, The New Yorker, 31 May 2021 The crux of this issue is a simple assessment rooted in the assignment of value. Ed Rusch, Forbes, 24 May 2021 But at the crux of Collier's dispute was the carving of the N-word into the elevator wall. Melissa Quinn, CBS News, 17 May 2021 While Rebekah's involvement isn't the main crux of the doc, she is presented as a powerful figure both in Adam's life and the company's. Marie Claire, 7 Apr. 2021 Customer-centricity is the crux of digital transformation, an existential imperative for business. Mark A. Cohen, Forbes, 1 Mar. 2021 August entry uses going back to school as its narrative crux (and parents around the world probably agree that back-to-school day is one of the best holidays of the year). Brian Tallerico, Vulture, 12 Feb. 2021

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.

See More

First Known Use of crux

1718, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for crux

Latin cruc-, crux cross, torture

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About crux

Listen to Our Podcast About crux

Statistics for crux

Last Updated

7 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Crux.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jun. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon


Test Your Vocabulary

Return of Name that Color!

  • a light greenish blue color
  • Name that color:
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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