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  1. an event, conclusion, statement, etc., that is far less important, powerful, or striking than expected.
  2. a descent in power, quality, dignity, etc.; a disappointing, weak, or inglorious conclusion: After serving as president, he may find life in retirement an anticlimax.
  3. a noticeable or ludicrous descent from lofty ideas or expressions to banalities or commonplace remarks: We were amused by the anticlimax of the company's motto: “For God, for country, and for Acme Gasworks.”

Origin of anticlimax

First recorded in 1720–30; anti- + climax Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for anticlimax

letdown, decline, comedown, descent, drop, slump, disappointment, bathos

Examples from the Web for anticlimax

Contemporary Examples of anticlimax

Historical Examples of anticlimax

British Dictionary definitions for anticlimax


  1. a disappointing or ineffective conclusion to a series of events, etc
  2. a sudden change from a serious subject to one that is disappointing or ludicrous
  3. rhetoric a descent in discourse from the significant or important to the trivial, inconsequential, etc
Derived Formsanticlimactic (ˌæntɪklaɪˈmæktɪk), adjectiveanticlimactically, adverb
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

Word Origin and History for anticlimax

"the addition of a particular which suddenly lowers the effect," 1701, from anti- + climax (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper