\ 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

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 None of the brand’s products are light, so moving them around is often the crux of owning one. Joe Jackson, Outside Online, 22 July 2022 This is the crux of how to stop lashing out in the moment. Jelena Kecmanovic, CNN, 12 July 2022 This would’ve been the crux of the defense approach: that Melzer had abhorrent views and associations, but was living an online fantasy and didn’t pose an actual threat to his fellow soldiers. Ali Winston, Rolling Stone, 6 July 2022 That is the crux of why a headline gushing outroar and outrage has arisen on this news item. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 5 July 2022 As is often the case in Congress, the extent of the regulation is the crux of debate. Ambreen Ali, Fortune, 4 July 2022 Short-term rentals themselves are not the crux of the issue, said Keren Horn, an affordable housing policy expert at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Kelly Garrity,, 19 June 2022 That's the crux of a mid-year report released Friday by the department that detailed the state of crime and policing in the city. Elliot Hughes, Journal Sentinel, 10 June 2022 That’s the crux of why Chastain is so good in this role. Kathleen Newman-bremang,, 19 Sep. 2021 See More

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.

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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Last Updated

6 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Crux.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Aug. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on crux

Nglish: Translation of crux for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of crux for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about crux


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