cul·mi·nate | \ˈkəl-mə-ˌnāt \
culminated; culminating

Definition of culminate 

intransitive verb

1 of a celestial body : to reach its highest altitude During the summer solstice, the sun culminates over the Tropic of Cancer in the northern hemisphere. also : to be directly overhead

2a : to rise to or form a summit … enormous waves culminated and fell with the report of thunder.— Frederick Marryat

b : to reach the highest or a climactic or decisive point Her long acting career culminated when she won the Oscar.

transitive verb

: to bring to a head or to the highest point The contract culminated weeks of negotiations.

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Synonyms for culminate


cap (off), climax, crown

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Did You Know?

Culminate was first used in English in the 17th century, in the field of astronomy. When a star or other heavenly body culminates, it reaches the point at which it is highest above the horizon from the vantage point of an observer on the ground. The word derives from the past participle of the Medieval Latin verb culminare, meaning "to crown," and ultimately from the Latin noun culmen, meaning "top." As something culminates it rises toward a peak. These days the word is most familiar to English speakers in its figurative usage, meaning "to reach a climactic or decisive point."

Examples of culminate in a Sentence

A bitter feud culminated months of tension. culminated the school year with a trip to New York

Recent Examples on the Web

Then everything will culminate Monday night, when Langford will announce his decision publicly at 7 p.m. in the New Albany gym, choosing between Indiana, Kansas and Vanderbilt. Kenzie Winstead, The Courier-Journal, "Romeo Langford will make his pick Saturday but don't expect any hints before the announcement," 27 Apr. 2018 The video culminates with Grande wearing a crown posing in Michelangelo's The Creation of Adam. Connor Whittum, Billboard, "Ariana Grande Debuts Galaxy-Spanning 'God Is a Woman' Video: Watch," 13 July 2018 The demonstration culminated with protesters toppling an effigy of Bush, recalling scenes of the fall of Saddam Hussein’s statue in Baghdad six months earlier. Ciara Nugent, Time, "Here's How Every Meeting Between the Queen and a U.S. President Went," 12 July 2018 This week’s summer classes culminate with a performance at 7 p.m. Thursday evening at the school that’s free and open to the public. Reema Amin,, "Anne Arundel summer dance program conveys confidence as well as technique," 11 July 2018 The effort culminated with a letter signed by The Hartford, Travelers, United Technologies Corp., Cigna, Hartford Healthcare and Stanley Black & Decker touting the benefits of Connecticut’s economic climate and its academic institutions. Kenneth R. Gosselin,, "Arrival of Infosys and Seven Stars Raises Hopes For Financial Tech Future Of Hartford Region," 8 July 2018 Boston’s Fourth of July celebration culminated with a booming and bright fireworks show above the city’s skyline. Zoë Madonna,, "With big assists from Moreno and Giddens, the Pops envisions a welcoming America," 5 July 2018 The festivities culminated on June 24, with the BET Awards, hosted by actor and comedian Jamie Foxx. Anita Bennett, Fortune, "BET Awards Mulling Move From Los Angeles, Insiders Say (Exclusive)," 27 June 2018 Master classes and public workshops culminate with a performance 6:30 p.m. July 7 on the Rinzler Stage. Roger Catlin, Smithsonian, "How Armenian Dance Adapted Over Time and Place," 26 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'culminate.' 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 culminate

1647, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for culminate

Medieval Latin culminatus, past participle of culminare, from Late Latin, to crown, from Latin culmin-, culmen top — more at hill

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Statistics for culminate

Last Updated

16 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for culminate

The first known use of culminate was in 1647

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More Definitions for culminate



English Language Learners Definition of culminate

: to reach the end or the final result of something

: to be the end or final result of (something)


cul·mi·nate | \ˈkəl-mə-ˌnāt \
culminated; culminating

Kids Definition of culminate

: to reach the end or the final result of Her campaign culminated with a victory.

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Comments on culminate

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


a state of commotion or excitement

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