Try Our Apps


90s Slang You Should Know


[klahy-maks] /ˈklaɪ mæks/
the highest or most intense point in the development or resolution of something; culmination:
His career reached its climax when he was elected president.
(in a dramatic or literary work) a decisive moment that is of maximum intensity or is a major turning point in a plot.
  1. a figure consisting of a series of related ideas so arranged that each surpasses the preceding in force or intensity.
  2. the last term or member of this figure.
an orgasm.
Ecology. the stable and self-perpetuating end stage in the ecological succession or evolution of a plant and animal community.
verb (used with or without object)
to bring to or reach a climax.
Origin of climax
1580-90; < Late Latin < Greek klîmax ladder, akin to klī́nein to lean
Related forms
hyperclimax, noun
unclimaxed, adjective
1. summit, zenith, acme, apex. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for climax
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • In the meantime the nation had risen to its climax of power and wealth, and showered riches and jewels upon its great cathedral.

  • The type of play reached a climax in the middle of the seventeenth century.

    Folkways William Graham Sumner
  • The curtain came down upon the climax, but there was no applause, and the audience silently filtered out into the street.

  • This was necessary as a climax, for they had performed, not a mere deed, but a ceremonial.

    The heart of happy hollow Paul Laurence Dunbar
  • Often, however, there is as much pleasure for the public emotionally in working up to the climax as in the climax itself.

    Dramatic Technique George Pierce Baker
British Dictionary definitions for climax


the most intense or highest point of an experience or of a series of events: the party was the climax of the week
a decisive moment in a dramatic or other work
a rhetorical device by which a series of sentences, clauses, or phrases are arranged in order of increasing intensity
(ecology) the stage in the development of a community during which it remains stable under the prevailing environmental conditions
Also called sexual climax (esp in referring to women) another word for orgasm
to reach or bring to a climax
Word Origin
C16: from Late Latin, from Greek klimax ladder
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for climax

1580s, in the rhetorical sense (a chain of reasoning in graduating steps from weaker to stronger), from Late Latin climax (genitive climacis), from Greek klimax "propositions rising in effectiveness," literally "ladder," from root of klinein "to slope," from PIE root *klei- "to lean" (see lean (v.)).

The rhetorical meaning evolved in English through "series of steps by which a goal is achieved," to "escalating steps," to (1789) "high point of intensity or development," a usage credited by the OED to "popular ignorance." The meaning "sexual orgasm" is recorded by 1880 (also in terms such as climax of orgasm), said to have been promoted from c.1900 by birth-control pioneer Marie Stopes (1880-1958) and others as a more accessible word than orgasm (n.).


1835, "to reach the highest point," from climax (n.). Related: Climaxed; climaxing.


1835, "to reach the highest point," from climax (n.). Related: Climaxed; climaxing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
climax in Medicine

climax cli·max (klī'māks')

  1. The height of a disease; the stage of greatest severity.

  2. See orgasm.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for climax

Most English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for climax

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for climax