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 formshy·per·cli·max, nounun·cli·maxed, adjective

Synonyms for climax Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for climax

Contemporary Examples of climax

Historical Examples of climax

British Dictionary definitions for climax



the most intense or highest point of an experience or of a series of eventsthe 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 for climax

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

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

climax in Medicine




The height of a disease; the stage of greatest severity.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.