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


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

The event culminated in a garden party inside the new structure on June 19, with many of the hospital's youngest residents in attendance. Rebekah Lowin, Country Living, "Chip and Joanna Gaines Built the Most Beautiful Playhouse for St. Jude," 5 July 2019 The tour culminated in a homecoming gig the following summer, beneath the watchful eyes of the gargoyles at Cardiff Castle. Longreads, "Manic Street Preachers’ Album The Holy Bible," 25 June 2019 The incident culminated with Rivera’s then-boyfriend attacking Brockhouse, prompting Brockhouse to file a complaint with the police. Gilbert Garcia,, "Brockhouse diverted, deceived and blamed the messenger," 21 June 2019 This culminated in a constitution being adopted in 1995 that provided for several crucial checks and balances. Moses Khisa, Quartz Africa, "President Museveni has twisted Uganda’s constitution to cling to power," 21 June 2019 The maintenance of certification program culminates in a major recertifying exam every 10 years. Sara Coughlin, SELF, "How to Know If You Should See an Esthetician or a Dermatologist," 18 June 2019 The video culminates in a food fight, during which Swift, dressed like french fries, finds and comforts Katy Perry, who is dressed like a hamburger. Caitlin O'kane, CBS News, "Taylor Swift releases star-studded video for "You Need To Calm Down," challenging anti-LGBTQ beliefs," 17 June 2019 That culminated in his May 11 start against the Los Angeles Angels, when Bundy got a visit in the fifth inning from pitching coach Doug Brocail because his velocity was falling into the 87-89 mph range. Jon Meoli,, "Orioles' Dylan Bundy reflects on changes to his pitch mix: 'You have to see it to believe it'," 15 June 2019 My lifelong long of basketball, pop culture, and hip-hop have culminated to watching Drake troll Kevin Durant in a Home Alone t-shirt., "The Raptors Shaped My Identity — Now They're Re-Shaping All Of Canada's," 13 June 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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Statistics for culminate

Last Updated

10 Jul 2019

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
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 complain fretfully

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