\ 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 Former President Donald Trump's attempt to leverage US military assistance to Ukraine to pressure Zelensky into doing political favors was at the crux of the 45th US President's first impeachment. Jennifer Hansler, CNN, "Blinken says US 'actively looking' at boosting security cooperation with Ukraine during trip to Kiev," 6 May 2021 At the crux of these statements was dubious data which shaped policy decisions and blindsided authorities. Sheikh Saaliq, Star Tribune, "India grieves 200K dead, with likely many more uncounted," 28 Apr. 2021 At the crux of dollar forecasts is expectations for the pace of recovery in the world’s biggest economy. Ruth Carson, Fortune, "Bad news for Americans traveling abroad—here comes the weaker dollar," 26 Apr. 2021 And safety continues to be at the crux of things — as emphasized in remarks Monday by L.A. schools Supt. Howard Blume Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "L.A. Unified to open 25 community vaccination clinics as part of school reopenings," 5 Apr. 2021 What does that tell you about what's really at the crux of this? NBC News, "Meet the Press - March 28, 2021," 28 Mar. 2021 But with homelessness a rising worry and the city’s housing markets now at a historic crux of demand and razor-thin supplies due in part to the coronavirus pandemic, the picture is evolving so fast city leaders aren’t always sure what to do next. The Salt Lake Tribune, "‘Gentrification has arrived in Salt Lake City,’ and it’s wreaking havoc," 14 Mar. 2021 The crux of lossless versus lossy music is human hearing. Tyler Hayes, Wired, "What Is Hi-Fi Audio, and Should You Pay More for It?," 17 Apr. 2021 The crux of the unionization drive was not necessarily wages (Amazon already provides a companywide minimum wage of $15, which is more than twice that of the federal minimum) but rather about working conditions. Zachary Halaschak, Washington Examiner, "Amazon winning by wide margin as half of votes counted in Alabama unionization election," 9 Apr. 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

14 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Crux.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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

Comments on crux

What made you want to look up crux? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Words Used by Nabokov Quiz

  • image1676440788
  • Choose the best definition or synonym for the word in bold: "There are some eructations that sound like cheers—at least, mine did." Lolita
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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