hec·​tic | \ ˈhek-tik How to pronounce hectic (audio) \

Definition of hectic

1 : characterized by activity, excitement, or confusion the hectic days before the holidays
2a medical : of, relating to, or being a fluctuating but persistent fever (as in tuberculosis)
b : having a hectic fever a hectic patient
3 : red, flushed hectic color on her cheeks

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Other Words from hectic

hectically \ ˈhek-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce hectically (audio) \ adverb
hectically busy

Semantic Crisis Intervention

Some people are bothered by changes in a word’s meaning (see: literally), while others have a more relaxed attitude towards semantic drift. For those who feel vexed when a word seems to have suddenly changed its spots, it may be of some comfort to know that words in English do this all the time; crisis is a fine example. Originally, crisis denoted “the turning point for better or worse in an acute disease or fever.” Now it most commonly means “a difficult or dangerous situation that needs serious attention,” yet few people insist that it should be used exclusively in its older meaning. The normality of semantic change can be seen in another word that first appeared in febrile contexts: hectic, which now is primarily used to mean “very busy,” originally referred to a fever that was fluctuating but recurrent.

Examples of hectic in a Sentence

We both had hectic days at work. She maintains a hectic schedule as a journalist and mother.

Recent Examples on the Web

Even with his hectic schedule, Avan stopped by to talk about the ridiculousness of Now Apocalypse, conspiracy theories, and more. Gabe Bergado, Teen Vogue, "Avan Jogia on the Delightful Absurdity of "Now Apocalypse," Why Fans Can't Let Go of "Victorious," and His Poetry Book "Mixed Feelings"," 31 Mar. 2019 The expiration of seven spending bills loomed over a hectic Friday that saw senators rush back into town to consider a measure that passed the House the night before. Kristina Peterson, WSJ, "U.S. Government Shuts Down Over Border Wall Funding," 22 Dec. 2018 United’s next four games over English soccer’s hectic festive period are against Cardiff, Huddersfield, Bournemouth and Newcastle, which either offer Mourinho a chance to make up ground or to slip further into the mire. Steve Douglas, The Seattle Times, "Pogba or Mourinho: Who will last longer at United?," 17 Dec. 2018 Picking up extra shifts during his already hectic six-to-seven-day work weeks, Smith was able to make the extra money ahead of the big dance and buy the dress for Nevaeha. Janine Puhak, Fox News, "Pittsburgh dad worked three jobs to surprise teen daughter with 'dream' dress," 31 July 2018 In the hectic final weeks of the campaign and during the presidential transition, several of Mr. Trump’s advisers drew Mr. Nader close. Mark Mazzetti, New York Times, "Trump Jr. and Other Aides Met With Gulf Emissary Offering Help to Win Election," 19 May 2018 Moving cops into districts Morales has had a hectic first three weeks on the job. Ashley Luthern, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "How Milwaukee's new police chief is changing the department," 9 Mar. 2018 Writer-actor Matt Ingebretson is easily having one of the most hectic weeks of his life. Craig Hlavaty, Houston Chronicle, "Lake Jackson native's new Comedy Central show premieres next week," 11 Jan. 2018 Turns out, Kate, like many 37-year-old mothers of three with a full-time job and a hectic schedule, has not made being a world-class soccer player a life priority. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Prince George Told Kate Middleton That She's "Rubbish" at Soccer," 3 Mar. 2019

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for hectic

Middle English etyk, from Anglo-French etique, from Late Latin hecticus, from Greek hektikos habitual, consumptive, from echein to have — more at scheme

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Statistics for hectic

Last Updated

7 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for hectic

The first known use of hectic was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for hectic



English Language Learners Definition of hectic

: very busy and filled with activity


hec·​tic | \ ˈhek-tik How to pronounce hectic (audio) \

Kids Definition of hectic

: filled with excitement, activity, or confusion We had a hectic day of shopping.


hec·​tic | \ ˈhek-tik How to pronounce hectic (audio) \

Medical Definition of hectic

1 : of, relating to, or being a fluctuating but persistent fever (as in tuberculosis)
2 : having a hectic fever a hectic patient

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More from Merriam-Webster on hectic

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with hectic

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for hectic

Spanish Central: Translation of hectic

Nglish: Translation of hectic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of hectic for Arabic Speakers

Comments on hectic

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


marked by a state of overwhelming emotion

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