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

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 Air travel has been hectic this summer, particularly at travel hubs across Europe, where many Americans are vacationing since COVID-19 pandemic restrictions have been loosened. Megan Cerullo, CBS News, 14 July 2022 The days following the announcement were hectic, with city officials scrambling for answers and solutions as scared community members asked questions about the safety of their water. Laura Schulte, Journal Sentinel, 11 July 2022 After a hectic season followed by a grind through the Team USA training camp and the Olympics, LaVine had a bit of a break to allow his body to rest. Sean Deveney, Forbes, 10 Sep. 2021 Whether or not your life has been particularly hectic lately, a break from the hustle and bustle will probably be welcome in your eyes. Chicago Tribune, 9 July 2022 Down in Texas, things are similarly hectic, with the 126 being called on to respond to a heist, TK (Ronen Rubenstein) celebrating the one-year anniversary of his sobriety, and Carlos (Rafael Silva) working on a case with his Texas Ranger father. Ew Staff, EW.com, 8 Mar. 2021 Though hectic, the process helped the bank connect with the community. Anchorage Daily News, 14 July 2022 The series effortlessly places its audience in the hectic kitchen of a longstanding Chicago beef establishment and the trials and tribulations that come with it. Scott King, Forbes, 11 July 2022 Gaming sometimes can be really stressful and hectic and fast. Sara Miller Llana, The Christian Science Monitor, 6 July 2022 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

13 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Hectic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hectic. Accessed 17 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for hectic


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

More from Merriam-Webster on hectic

Nglish: Translation of hectic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of hectic for Arabic Speakers


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