hectic

adjective
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

Making matters even more hectic, the European Union is holding a summit Oct. 17 and 18, at which the leaders are to consider what to do about Brexit. Megan Specia, BostonGlobe.com, "Brexit confusion: What is going on in Great Britain?," 4 Sep. 2019 One more oversight: During the hectic initial planning, Meyer, the commander of the riverine task force, believed that a Navy ship or plane would be assigned to keep a close eye on the boats in case anything went wrong. Megan Rose, ProPublica, "Trump Keeps Talking About the Last Military Standoff With Iran — Here’s What Really Happened," 24 June 2019 Unpredictable work schedules Americans’ work lives are increasingly unpredictable and hectic. Joslyn Brenton, The Conversation, "Time to cook is a luxury many families don’t have," 19 June 2019 This displeasure has facilitated a hectic summer of transfer rumours, the latest of which being Dybala's involvement in a player-plus-cash deal that would see Neymar replace him at the Allianz Stadium. SI.com, "Paulo Dybala Set to Stay at Juventus as Paris Saint-Germain Remain Uninterested in Signing Forward," 21 Aug. 2019 Next up is check-in: Note that cruise terminals can be hectic and crowded, but staff and signage will be on hand to point you in the right direction. Elissa Garay, Condé Nast Traveler, "A First-Timer's Guide to Cruising," 14 Aug. 2019 There’s an unusual feature in this hectic prep area: litter boxes on every table. Raisa Bruner, Time, "Opera, Leopard Prints and Lace. Go Inside the Lavish Cat Fashion Show that Puts Felines on Fashion's Front Lines," 8 Aug. 2019 Enjoy a show at the Carroll Arts Center before the hectic fall season arrives! Judy Morley, baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, "Coming Attractions: Classic Orson Welles movie ‘The Third Man’ to be shown at Arts Center," 7 Aug. 2019 While the long walk up the quiet beach is like drawing in breath, this hectic, supermarket-sized seafood restaurant is a bellow of release. Stephen Connolly, National Geographic, "Beyond Barcelona: A weekend on Málaga’s magical coast," 6 Aug. 2019

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

Dictionary Entries near hectic

hectare

hectastyle

hecte

hectic

hectical

hecticness

hective

Statistics for hectic

Last Updated

17 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for hectic

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for hectic

hectic

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of hectic

: very busy and filled with activity

hectic

adjective
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.

hectic

adjective
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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with hectic

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).

WORD OF THE DAY

concealment of treason or felony

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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