1 : (of a celestial body) to reach its highest altitude; also : to be directly overhead
2 : to rise to or form a summit
3 : to reach the highest or a climactic or decisive point
"My son and I are very interested in science and discovery. We were privileged to hear a distinguished physicist describe his research in magnetic wave phenomenon…. His complex findings present all matter as series of circular waves culminating in one large magnetic center which connects the universe." — Louise Bostic, The Daily Star (Hammond, Louisiana), 21 Apr. 2016
"Unfortunately, segments of its plot lacked creativity and purpose, ultimately culminating in a mediocre final product." — Nick Gavio, The Georgetown Voice (Georgetown University), 5 June 2017
Did You Know?
Culminate was first used in English in the 17th century in the field of astronomy. When a star or other heavenly body culminates, it reaches the point at which it is highest above the horizon from the vantage point of an observer on the ground. The word derives from the past participle of the Medieval Latin verb culminare, meaning "to crown," and ultimately from the Latin noun culmen, meaning "top." As something culminates it rises toward a peak. These days the word is most familiar to English speakers in its figurative usage meaning "to reach a climactic or decisive point."
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Test Your Vocabulary
Unscramble the letters to create a noun that refers to the highest point of development or achievement: NCIEPLNA.VIEW THE ANSWER
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