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 hectic (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 The situation can get more hectic due to a complexifier like the weather. Rob Verger, Popular Science, "Stay calm under pressure with lessons learned in the world’s most stressful careers," 8 Jan. 2021 Responsible pet owners must also consider the safety of their pets during this hectic time of the year. Iris Katz, baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, "Pet Wise: Keeping pets and guests safe during unusual holiday season," 19 Dec. 2020 Despite a hectic schedule, Williams joined Refinery29 to discuss post-election reflections, policy, and putting her own foot forward — without forgetting to look back, of course. Audra Heinrichs, refinery29.com, "Rep. Nikema Williams Reveals Her Own History Of Making “Good Trouble”," 24 Nov. 2020 Such as, for most of us — excluding healthcare workers, of course — our working lives have become less hectic. Phil Blair, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Finally, it’s time to look ahead to better times to come," 28 Dec. 2020 The result leaves his side three points clear at the top from Merseyside rivals Everton with a host of other clubs in touching distance in the middle of a hectic holiday run of matches. Paul Gittings, CNN, "West Brom stuns Liverpool with late equalizer," 27 Dec. 2020 But managing hectic schedules and raising two children during a pandemic isn't the only challenge Sellier has faced this year. Monique Valeris, Good Housekeeping, "Ciara and Russell Wilson Honor a Deserving Seattle COVID-19 Nurse with a Home Makeover," 28 Oct. 2020 With just 10 days to go until Christmas, holiday shopping has officially entered the final hectic stages. Isabelle Kagan, USA TODAY, "The 5 best Amazon deals you can get this Tuesday," 16 Dec. 2020 In the hectic aftermath, between planning a funeral and trying to come up with money to pay their medical bills, Leonor never got a chance to tell the doctor thank you. NBC News, "He treated Houston's most desperate Covid patients. Then he became a victim.," 11 Dec. 2020

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 entry 1

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Time Traveler for hectic

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for hectic

Last Updated

21 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Hectic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hectic. Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for hectic


How to pronounce hectic (audio)

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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Comments on hectic

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