in extremis

in ex·​tre·​mis | \ ˌin-ik-ˈstrē-məs How to pronounce in extremis (audio) , -ˈstrā- How to pronounce in extremis (audio) \

Definition of in extremis

: in extreme circumstances especially : at the point of death

Examples of in extremis in a Sentence

They are helping a family in extremis.

Recent Examples on the Web

End-of-life medical conversations also often involve language in extremis. Michael Erard, Quartz, "How a doctor and a linguist are using AI to better talk to dying patients," 3 Sep. 2019 This, though, would be a nuclear option: one that America is likely to take only in extremis. The Economist, "Hong Kong remains crucially important to mainland China," 8 Aug. 2019 Iran may in extremis also stage terrorist attacks in Europe and the U.S. Victor Davis Hanson, The Mercury News, "Hanson: U.S. holds all the cards in showdown with Iran," 20 June 2019 Nor drinking, either: the 6.2-liter pushrod V8 is fitted with dual fuel systems to pump more gas into the cylinders in extremis. Dan Neil, WSJ, "2019 Corvette ZR1: The Last, and Best, of Its Kind," 28 Nov. 2018 The result would be no mere picture but a trove of pixels against which to test our ideas about gravity, relativity and the behavior of matter in extremis. Alan Hirshfeld, WSJ, "Book Review: Feeling Gravity’s Pull," 16 Nov. 2018 The grand design of this more than 7½-hour work is revealed only through the gradual movement of the minds of the characters, who are flailing in extremis for a path out of abandonment, betrayal, bad faith and overwhelming terror. Charles Mcnulty,, "For the Berkeley Rep revival of 'Angels in America,' the play is the thing," 29 May 2018 This is a classic Schrader study of the male soul in extremis, seen with a bracing new clarity. Justin Chang,, "The bracing 'First Reformed,' starring a superb Ethan Hawke, resurrects Paul Schrader's career," 17 May 2018 On the left side of the screen Zama lies, in extremis, in the bottom of a canoe, while the right side of the screen is occupied by a vertical ribbon of vividly green vegetation as the boat slips through a mangrove swamp. WSJ, "‘Zama’ Review: Trapped in the Tropics," 26 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'in extremis.' 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 in extremis

circa 1530, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

19 Sep 2019

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The first known use of in extremis was circa 1530

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in extremis


English Language Learners Definition of in extremis

: at the point of death
: in a very difficult situation

in extremis

in ex·​tre·​mis | \ ˌin-ik-ˈstrē-məs How to pronounce in extremis (audio) , -ˈstrā- How to pronounce in extremis (audio) \

Medical Definition of in extremis

: at the point of death

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Comments on in extremis

What made you want to look up in extremis? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to wander slowly or to speak indistinctly

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