hec·​tic | \ˈhek-tik \

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 \ 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

Before things get too hectic with shopping for the holidays, there are a some really good deals to check out — a few of which will expire pretty soon. Cameron Faulkner, The Verge, "$100 off an Xbox One console with Red Dead Redemption 2 deal expires today, plus other tech deals," 3 Nov. 2018 The couple has a history of coordinating their hectic schedules and their ensembles, too. Christian Allaire, Vogue, "Bella Hadid and The Weeknd Do Couples Style in Matching Chunky Sneakers," 29 Sep. 2018 If the past few weeks have been a bit hectic, this summer’s back-to-back retrogrades and exhausting eclipses are definitely to blame. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "What Your Sign's September 2018 Horoscope Predictions Mean for You," 30 Aug. 2018 Sam Schoensee, a 14-year-old in Cape Coral, Fla., has a hectic soccer schedule packed with club practices, tournaments, and one-on-one coaching. Katy Mclaughlin, WSJ, "Wealthy Parents Help Child Athletes Go Pro in Their Own Backyards," 16 Aug. 2018 Moreover, a 2015 CNN investigation found that air marshals were often medicated to help them sleep and, because of their hectic schedule, were also often sleep-deprived. John Mueller, Vox, "Airline terrorist attacks are extremely rare. It’s one reason TSA’s Quiet Skies program is a waste of money.," 4 Aug. 2018 Life over at Cobham training ground is a bit hectic at the moment. SI.com, "Chelsea Reportedly in 'Advanced Talks' to Sign In-Demand Nice Midfielder Jean Michel Seri," 6 June 2018 The family of eight stars on the popular TLC show OutDaughtered, which gives an inside look into their hectic life that comes with raising quintuplets. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "Everything You Need to Know About the Busby Quints, the Cutest Stars of 'OutDaughtered'," 10 July 2018 In recent years, Berwyn, a suburb west of Chicago in Cook County, has campaigned to lure millennials tired of hectic city life who want to settle down. chicagotribune.com, "Millennials are largest age group in Cook County, census shows, but will they stay?," 21 June 2018

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

17 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

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 \

Kids Definition of hectic

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


hec·​tic | \ˈhek-tik \

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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