- a figure consisting of a series of related ideas so arranged that each surpasses the preceding in force or intensity.
- the last term or member of this figure.
Origin of climax
OTHER WORDS FROM climaxhy·per·cli·max, nounun·cli·maxed, adjective
Words nearby climax
ABOUT THIS WORD
What does climax mean?
A climax is the most intense, decisive point of something, especially in a story or film.
Where does climax come from?
Content warning: this article contains language about sex.
We can ultimately thank Greek for the word climax, which literally means “ladder.”
By the 1640s, climax was referring to the culmination of something, such as a competition or story. Many literature students will know climax as the peak or pivotal moment in plays, as modeled by 19th-century German dramatist Gustav Freytag in his namesake, Freytag’s pyramid.
Climax lent itself to sex by the 1870s, used in scientific literature for the orgasm of a person.
How is climax used in real life?
Literature teachers and students will discuss climaxes when analyzing the plot or structure of a story. Climax also sees frequent use in discussion of films, especially their most exciting or significant parts.
At Holtzman's badass scene at the climax? Not gonna lie I literally teared up. This is the second time this happens at a badass moment.
— Alex✨ (@dirtbagboyfren) July 15, 2016
More generally, a climax can refer to the “high point” something has built up to (e.g., The climax of my week was the surprise office party on Friday).
Plenty of erotic novels or pornography titles may feature the word climax, though climax is generally considered inoffensive. In sexual contexts, climax is often used as a verb for “having an orgasm.”
More examples of climax:
“The only drawbacks of the film are its noticeable tendency to abruptly change from scene to scene for most of its run time, although it becomes slightly better toward the end, and a somewhat underwhelming climax — a chase between a fearful group of humans following the discovery of yeti existence.
Overall, the action scenes in “Smallfoot” are successful, but the climax falls short.”
—Alex Novak, Kent Wired, September 2018
This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.
How to use climax in a sentence
The orchestral music swells like a climax in a Disney film as Ronald McDonald notices the runty skater.The McDonald’s Commercials That Live in Our Minds, Rent Free|MM Carrigan|December 18, 2020|Eater
The climax of cricket mating is the transfer of the spermatophore, a protein ball packed with sperm.Small, quiet crickets turn leaves into megaphones to blare their mating call|Jonathan Lambert|December 16, 2020|Science News
The climax of Keller’s childhood occurred during the summer of 1887 when Anne Sullivan convinced her that “everything had a name, and each name gave birth to a new thought.”Five Scientists on the Heroes Who Changed Their Lives - Issue 93: Forerunners|Alan Lightman, Hope Jahren, Robert Sapolsky,|December 2, 2020|Nautilus
Conversely, given proper attention, the series’ climax could have been significantly expanded and dramatized.Netflix’s The Haunting of Bly Manor is a calm, loving study in how to exorcise your ghosts|Aja Romano|October 9, 2020|Vox
It is thought to be the climax to your offering, so making it count will pay off.Studying the anatomy of a successful high-conversion landing page|Yasmine Dehimi|June 22, 2020|Search Engine Watch
And it is that climax where the book and the film diverge the most, and which will probably upset the most people.Why 'The Giver' Movie Will Disappoint the Book's Fans|Kevin Fallon|August 15, 2014|DAILY BEAST
[Laughs] I should have said, “Well, this is certainly a climax!”Allison Janney’s Incredible ‘Double O’ and That ‘Masters of Sex’ Love Scene|Jason Lynch|July 14, 2014|DAILY BEAST
But then, as the song reaches its climax, the Marines explode.Why These Marines Love ‘Frozen’—and Why It Matters|Aaron B. O’Connell|June 27, 2014|DAILY BEAST
But not even Cap can escape the dreaded generic climax of the modern day superhero flick.How ‘Captain America’ Almost Got It Right but Ended Up Being a Dud|Sujay Kumar|April 8, 2014|DAILY BEAST
The percussion rolls like thunder, the woodwinds climax, the camera swoops upward, and we see the brass plaque: The Olive Garden.Frank Underwood Will Not Tolerate Insubordination in This Olive Garden|Kelly Williams Brown|February 24, 2014|DAILY BEAST
On to Gaba Tepe just in time to see the opening, the climax and the end of the dreaded Turkish counter attack.Gallipoli Diary, Volume I|Ian Hamilton
She was a grown young woman when she was overtaken by what she supposed to be the climax of her fate.The Awakening and Selected Short Stories|Kate Chopin
The climax was reached when a most offensive policeman in a dictatorial manner ordered me to 'Move on.'The Pit Town Coronet, Volume I (of 3)|Charles James Wills
A talk with this enigmatical cousin would be a proper climax to the triumphs of the night.
That last moment, as she stepped lightly over the threshold of the library, was a sort of climax to the intoxication of youth.