plural cruxes also cruces ˈkrü-ˌsēz How to pronounce crux (audio)
: a puzzling or difficult problem : an unsolved question
The origin of the word is a scholarly crux.
: an essential point requiring resolution or resolving an outcome
: a main or central feature (as of an argument)
… he discarded all but the essential cruxes of his argument.Carl Van Doren

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 While viewers know the film’s crux is a damning interview, its plot provides a roadmap and the personal motivations that led each figure there. Armani Syed, TIME, 5 Apr. 2024 Narratively speaking, the story’s crux is an unlikely friendship. Longreads, 2 Feb. 2024 This impersonality is all the more dismaying because the dramatic crux of the film is exceptionally effective. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 1 Feb. 2024 To continue to be successful, owners and operators need to better understand employee data and listen to tenant insights because the real crux of the problem is clear: For employees, the commute needs to be worthwhile. Chase Garbarino, Fortune, 4 Dec. 2023 The thematic chart-topper becomes the narrative crux heavily featured throughout the 10-episode musical miniseries. Clayton Davis, Variety, 13 Apr. 2023 Fagen has previously canceled concerts due to illness and is the sole crux of Steely Dan following the death of Walter Becker in 2017 — with a virtuosic group of musicians and singers backing him every night. Devon Ivie, Vulture, 11 Oct. 2023 One crux for Spain’s independent sector is to attract investment, vital to sustain game development on more ambitious projects whose cost may not be covered by initial publishers’ deals. Callum McLennan, Variety, 17 Aug. 2023 The real crux of this is the husband and his attitude. Meghan Leahy, Washington Post, 19 July 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'crux.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin cruc-, crux cross, torture

First Known Use

1718, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of crux was in 1718


Dictionary Entries Near crux

Cite this Entry

“Crux.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

plural cruxes also cruces ˈkrü-ˌsēz How to pronounce crux (audio)
: the most important point
the crux of the problem

from Latin crux "cross, torture, trouble" — related to cross, crucial, crucify

More from Merriam-Webster on crux

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