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 series of talks will culminate with the first-ever STARZ Summit, a day that will showcase the company’s creative diversity and commitment to the next generation of diverse voices. Anne Easton, Forbes, "STARZ Announces Partnership With Alliance Of Women Directors In #TakeTheLead Initiative To Give Emerging Female Directors First Episodic Assignment," 12 Apr. 2021 The season will culminate in December with a championship game at the 2021 Super 7 State High School Football Championships in Birmingham. al, "AHSAA sanctioning girls flag football for fall of 2021," 6 Apr. 2021 More than anything else, the series is a testament to how an artist’s years-long obsession with a subject can often culminate not in expertise or a unique perspective, but in being unable to see the forest for the trees. Ej Dickson, Rolling Stone, "‘Q: Into the Storm’ Asks Who Q Is, But Is That Really the Point?," 18 Mar. 2021 The Challenge Cup will culminate with a final on May 8, and then the 24-game regular season begins on May 15. Hayes Gardner, The Courier-Journal, "Racing Louisville FC's inaugural NWSL season schedule becomes clearer," 8 Mar. 2021 On especially raucous nights, that song would culminate with Anderson pummeling his bass into his speaker cabinet, an authentic expression of rock catharsis. Matt Wake |, al, "Stone Anderson: A tribute to a great Alabama musician gone too soon," 12 Apr. 2021 The Kentucky Republican's comments culminate a week of increasing Republican backlash to the mounting criticism, with GOP lawmakers in Georgia and Washington threatening retaliation to businesses who oppose their policy agenda. Mabinty Quarshie, USA TODAY, "OnPolitics: Biden's new COVID vaccine goal," 7 Apr. 2021 The hearings today culminate a decades-long effort to make this more than something that The Washington Post covers in its Metro section. Philip Elliott, Time, "Sorry. D.C. Statehood Isn’t Likely," 22 Mar. 2021 For most of us, that might culminate in crying on the phone to your best friend, or maybe bingeing on butter pecan ice cream eaten right out of the container. Washington Post, "‘Not racially motivated’?: The Atlanta spa shootings show why the media should be wary of initial police statements," 18 Mar. 2021

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

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The first known use of culminate was in 1647

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Statistics for culminate

Last Updated

3 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Culminate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 May. 2021.

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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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