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

The fast-moving series of events recalled the hectic early days of the Trump administration, when Trump signed an executive order barring people from entering the country from seven predominately Muslim countries. Gregory Korte, USA TODAY, "Another chaotic week: How Trump scrambled to address border crisis," 22 June 2018 Speaking animatedly above the incessant back-up beeper of a nearby mini-forklift, Bolton surmised the hectic scene looking a little like someone who still couldn't believe his good fortune. Rosemary Feitelberg | Wwd, latimes.com, "The Met’s Costume Institute unveils ‘Heavenly Bodies’ exhibition during preview before the Met Gala," 7 May 2018 That was not the case with Culantro's ceviche, which was balanced in flavor and cured to perfection despite it being served on a hectic first day of business. Mark Kurlyandchik, Detroit Free Press, "First Bite: Rotisserie chicken is star at Peruvian restaurant in Ferndale," 4 May 2018 The hectic schedule didn't leave much time for discussion. William L. Spence, idahostatesman, "U.S. trading partners are raising tariffs. That won't hurt Idaho farmers, Perdue vows," 4 July 2018 Before meeting Harry, Meghan was used to a hectic schedule, juggling filming for Suits with modeling jobs, humanitarian commitments, and managing a lifestyle brand. Marcia Moody, Town & Country, "How Meghan Markle's First Year as a Royal Will Compare with Kate Middleton’s," 27 June 2018 Just two losses in that hectic schedule of more than 25 matches (not including friendlies). Cincinnati.com, "Enquirer soccer writers predict 2018 FIFA World Cup winner," 16 June 2018 Telles would prove a worthy adversary for the Scottish full back, and with such a hectic schedule brought by the Premier League, Champions League and domestic cups, strength in depth is a very important factor to any side's season. SI.com, "Liverpool Boss Jurgen Klopp Plotting to Hijack Chelsea's Move for £35m Brazilian Ace," 15 June 2018 Oganyan, who has been the head girls’ basketball coach at Burroughs High since 2004, maintains a hectic schedule during her break from school. Jeff Tully, latimes.com, "Basketball camp is rewarding part of coach's hectic summer," 14 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

8 Sep 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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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).


alleviating pain or harshness

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