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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from hectic

hectically \ ˈhek-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce hectically (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 Aniston plays with puppies, brings in dancing babies and talks to a red parrot to try and get Smartwater to go viral in this hectic yet hilarious commercial. Jenna Ryu, USA TODAY, "The funniest celeb commercials, from Ja Rule's low-budget ad to Taylor Swift for Apple Music," 3 July 2020 And the game has a bunch of different driver assists like automatic windshield wipers, headlights, and pit-lane speed limiters to help manage what can be a hectic workload while also trying to race at over 100mph. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "Assetto Corsa Competizione," 23 June 2020 Five years after high school, she is still caught up in her hectic home life. Tiana Reid, The New York Review of Books, "Searching for Freedom in ‘Cane River’ and the Black Outdoors," 20 June 2020 My work schedule is a little bit hectic traveling a lot. Marc Bona, cleveland, "3 Clevelanders reflect on Father’s Day by sharing unique stories, lessons," 20 June 2020 Perhaps the only thing more hectic than an unexpected four-month suspension of NBA games? Allie Morris, Dallas News, "NBA restart central: A full return-to-play schedule, the latest developments and Mavericks notes to remember," 14 June 2020 Regardless of what Livers chooses to do — and how hectic Michigan's offseason might have seemed — Washington is confident in the current roster. Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan basketball's tumultuous offseason just 'normal attrition'," 9 June 2020 The issue stems from the hectic early weeks of the program, when funding ran out quickly and borrowers were not hearing back from their banks, industry sources told NBC News. NBC News, "PPP loan program accidentally paid some small-business owners twice," 19 May 2020 Visit between April to May or September to October when popular attractions and activities aren’t as hectic. Metanoya Z. Webb, Essence, "Get Lost: 72 Hours in SoCal (With Your Little Ones in Tow)," 11 June 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about hectic

Time Traveler for hectic

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for hectic

Last Updated

7 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Hectic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hectic. Accessed 11 Jul. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on hectic

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for hectic

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with hectic

Spanish Central: Translation of hectic

Nglish: Translation of hectic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of hectic for Arabic Speakers

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).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!