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 Last year, Michigan basketball's offseason was hectic with recruiting misses and additions and subtractions via the transfer portal. Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press, "Why Michigan basketball shouldn't be counted out — despite substantial subtractions," 5 May 2021 In the finale, which ends on a cliffhanger, the hectic action halts, and the two meet at a diner for a détente, where Byron orders the Big-Boy Burger. Doreen St. Félix, The New Yorker, "Gender and Genre in “Made for Love” and “Mare of Easttown”," 3 May 2021 The production is directed by Pascale Florestal, whose adroit touches include the incorporation of footage of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the US Capitol into the hectic flow of onstage events. BostonGlobe.com, "Giving the structures of racism a shake in ‘TJ Loves Sally 4 Ever’," 1 May 2021 Susie peeled back the veil Saturday and spoke of some of the difficult sacrifices of being a single mother with two boys who have fallen madly in love with a hectic, busy, expensive sport. Nathan Brown, The Indianapolis Star, "Dan Wheldon's sons Sebastian, Oliver, named Andretti Autosport development drivers," 25 Apr. 2021 Life is hectic and about to become even more so thanks to a phone call in a moment of sorrow that in the end felt like light illuminating darkness. Star Tribune, "Love and basketball, and baby too: St. Thomas coach Johnny Tauer's family story is tough to top," 24 Apr. 2021 Seven of those saves came during a hectic second half, when Harris also fended off a penalty kick to secure the team’s first shutout of the year. Julia Poe, orlandosentinel.com, "Orlando Pride captain Ashlyn Harris energized by Pride’s first win of the year," 23 Apr. 2021 How can a hectic enterprise share core competencies and keep driving growth as another generation leads? Robert Sher, Forbes, "How Midsized Companies Can Launch Powerful Mentoring Programs," 21 Apr. 2021 And what prevents us from spinning out of control in an age of such hectic change? The Economist, "Bagehot Prince Philip and the dynasty factor," 15 Apr. 2021

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

9 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Hectic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hectic. Accessed 14 May. 2021.

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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

Comments on hectic

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