crux

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

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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 But the book’s crux hardly describes the experience of reading it: Divided into more than 1,000 fragments, Apeirogon develops into a lyrical, at times pleasingly random meditation on loss, beauty, and the human condition. Leah Greenblatt, EW.com, "The best books of 2020… so far," 30 June 2020 The perception that Engel is an absentee congressman is the crux of Bowman's campaign and is similar to the playbook run by Ocasio-Cortez's successful campaign in Brooklyn. Aaron Navarro, CBS News, "Eliot Engel faces potential upset from progressive primary challenger," 16 June 2020 When approximately 100 or 200 protesters take to the streets each night, their specific motivations vary from personal reasons to abstract ideas, but the crux remains consistent: change, improvement, hope. Hayes Gardner, The Courier-Journal, "'This is for you, baby': 22 days of protests are about more than Breonna Taylor," 20 June 2020 While other celebrities in this moment have rushed to their front-facing cameras in order to say something, Chappelle lands on the contradictory crux of how to say nothing. Lauren Michele Jackson, The New Yorker, "Dave Chappelle’s Rough-Cut Humorlessness in “8:46”," 18 June 2020 But more than messaging, the ad spends reveal the crux of each campaign’s electoral targeting strategy. Emily Larsen, Washington Examiner, "Multimillion-dollar Biden-Trump ad wars begin," 18 June 2020 The crux of the dispute stemmed from a March 26 agreement that was interpreted differently by the sides. Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Manfred and Clark meet, jointly develop framework to begin delayed 2020 MLB season," 17 June 2020 The perception that Engel is an absentee congressman is the crux of Bowman's campaign and is similar to the playbook run by Ocasio-Cortez's successful campaign in Brooklyn. Aaron Navarro, CBS News, "Eliot Engel faces potential upset from progressive primary challenger," 16 June 2020 But individual choices were at the crux of new infection numbers. Elaine Ayala, ExpressNews.com, "Ayala: San Antonio has to let go of believing young aren’t at risk of coronavirus," 16 June 2020

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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Last Updated

12 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Crux.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/crux. Accessed 14 Jul. 2020.

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More from Merriam-Webster on crux

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for crux

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with crux

Spanish Central: Translation of crux

Nglish: Translation of crux for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of crux for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about crux

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