[klahy-mak-ter-ik, klahy-mak-ter-ik]


Physiology. a period of decrease of reproductive capacity in men and women, culminating, in women, in the menopause.
any critical period.
a year in which important changes in health, fortune, etc., are held by some theories to occur, as one's sixty-third year (grand climacteric).
the period of maximum respiration in a fruit, during which it becomes fully ripened.


Also cli·mac·ter·i·cal [klahy-mak-ter-i-kuh l] /ˌklaɪ mækˈtɛr ɪ kəl/. critical; crucial.

Origin of climacteric

1595–1605; < Latin clīmactēricus < Greek klīmaktērikós (klīmaktḗr rung of a ladder, critical point in life, equivalent to klīmak-, stem of klîmax (see climax) + -tēr noun suffix) + -ikos -ic
Related formscli·mac·ter·i·cal·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for climacteric

Historical Examples of climacteric

  • The age at which menstruation ceases is called the menopause or climacteric.


    William J. Robinson

  • What is the climacteric period, or the change of life in a woman?

  • If he was right in fixing his climacteric at sixteen he might well have been dead.

  • The ensuing duet is intense and full of climacteric effects.

    Stars of the Opera

    Mabel Wagnalls

  • All that he did know was that a climacteric in his life had been attained.

    Martin Eden

    Jack London

British Dictionary definitions for climacteric



a critical event or period
another name for menopause
the period in the life of a man corresponding to the menopause, chiefly characterized by diminished sexual activity
botany the period during which certain fruits, such as apples, ripen, marked by a rise in the rate of respiration

adjective Also: climacterical (ˌklaɪmækˈtɛrɪkəl)

involving a crucial event or period
Derived Formsclimacterically, adverb

Word Origin for climacteric

C16: from Latin clīmactēricus, from Greek klimaktērikos, from klimakter rung of a ladder, from klimax ladder; see climax
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 climacteric

c.1600 (adj.), 1620s (n.), from Latin climactericus, from Greek klimakterikos "of a critical period," from klimakter "rung of a ladder" (see climax (n.)). A critical stage in human life, a period supposed to be especially liable to change. By some, held to be the years that are multiples of 7 (7, 14, 21, etc.), by others only the odd multiples (7, 21, 35, etc.), and by still others the multiples of 9. The Great Climacteric was the 63rd year (7x9), supposed to be especially critical.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

climacteric in Medicine


[klī-măktər-ĭk, klī′măk-tĕrĭk]


The period in a man's life corresponding to female menopause, characterized by decreased libido.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.