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 Under the wrong conditions transformers can become less efficient or even, in extremis, blow up. The Economist, "Hong Kong’s uncertain future Can Hong Kong remain a global financial centre?," 4 June 2020 Two days later, the patient’s daughter calls; her father is in extremis. Dhruv Khullar, The New Yorker, "“A Disembodied Voice”: The Loneliness and Solidarity of Treating the Coronavirus in New York," 8 Apr. 2020 The American military is recognized as a formidable fighting force, with logistical, communications and supply networks that excel in extremis. New York Times, "Pentagon Takes Restrained Role in Coronavirus Response, Despite Calls for Help," 25 Mar. 2020 Who would deny people in extremis the opportunity to conclude their lives without pain? Kyle Smith, National Review, "The Gene Revolution Is Already Here," 13 Mar. 2020 And, in any case, governments have financing options that are unavailable to private businesses, such as raising taxes or, in extremis, having the central bank issue money and purchase bonds. John Cassidy, The New Yorker, "New Reports Show That Trump’s Economic Promises Were Empty," 31 Jan. 2020 They were all women trained to deal with human beings in extremis. Belinda Luscombe, Time, "Alfre Woodard's Latest Project Is a Film About the Death Penalty. She Says Her Activism Is 'Beside the Point'," 9 Jan. 2020 Unbeknownst to its citizens and the world at large, the Soviet Union in 1986 was in extremis, poised for a collapse that would come only five years after the Chernobyl disaster. Steve Donoghue, The Christian Science Monitor, "'Midnight in Chernobyl' explores the world's worst nuclear disaster," 31 Jan. 2019 The state of the economy must still matter in extremis: would President Donald Trump’s approval rating really hold up if unemployment went from 4% to, say, 20%? The Economist, "Does the economy affect elections any more?," 28 Nov. 2019

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

History and Etymology for in extremis


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The first known use of in extremis was circa 1530

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Cite this Entry

“In extremis.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for in extremis

in extremis

How to pronounce in extremis (audio) How to pronounce in extremis (audio)

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

Comments on in extremis

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