cul·​mi·​nate | \ ˈkəl-mə-ˌnāt How to pronounce culminate (audio) \
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


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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 The Oscar winner stars as the orange alien Maz Kanata in the new trilogy, culminating with an appearance in The Rise of Skywalker, in theaters Dec. 20. Ale Russian,, "Lupita Nyong'o Corrects Abby Huntsman After Host Asks 'How Long Hair and Makeup' Took on Star Wars," 12 Dec. 2019 The debate unfolded at the start of a two-day meeting that is expected to culminate on Thursday with a party-line vote to send the articles to the full House for final passage. Nicholas Fandos, New York Times, "House Panel Debates Impeachment Articles in Bid to Complete Charges Against Trump," 12 Dec. 2019 Week 13 featured the quarterback’s resiliency, culminating in a record-setting win. Tyler Dragon,, "Week 13 played out like a Hollywood movie for Bengals QB Andy Dalton," 2 Dec. 2019 List season has hit particularly hard this year, as the end of our first full decade of social media immersion has culminated in a multi-month spree of ranking and revisiting the likes of which humanity has probably never seen before. Judy Berman, Time, "The 10 Best TV Shows of 2019," 29 Nov. 2019 The next wave will be showcased two days after the season ends when the fall instructional league culminates with the Don Welke On Deck Classic. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Minors: Date set for Padres’ fourth Petco Park prospect showcase," 18 Sep. 2019 He was moved into the role amid one of the biggest political corruption investigations in the city’s history, culminating a year later with the FBI’s public raid on the City Hall offices of powerful Ald. Katherine Rosenberg-douglas,, "Emmerson Buie Jr. named as first African American to head Chicago FBI field office," 17 Sep. 2019 But Los Gatos answered again with a touchdown drive, this one culminating with a 28-yard run by Girvan. Phil Jensen, The Mercury News, "Football: Los Gatos goes to air to beat Leland," 6 Sep. 2019 The stars truly aligned for Tiffany Young this past week as the singer-songwriter's slew of exciting events culminated into her first appearance on the Social 50 chart. Jeff Benjamin, Billboard, "Tiffany Young Makes Her Debut on the Social 50 Chart," 12 Aug. 2019

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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Time Traveler for culminate

Time Traveler

The first known use of culminate was in 1647

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Statistics for culminate

Last Updated

9 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Culminate.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 19 January 2020.

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More Definitions for culminate


How to pronounce culminate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of culminate

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


cul·​mi·​nate | \ ˈkəl-mə-ˌnāt How to pronounce culminate (audio) \
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).


to insert between existing elements

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