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noun, plural cri·ses [krahy-seez] /ˈkraɪ siz/.
  1. a stage in a sequence of events at which the trend of all future events, especially for better or for worse, is determined; turning point.
  2. a condition of instability or danger, as in social, economic, political, or international affairs, leading to a decisive change.
  3. a dramatic emotional or circumstantial upheaval in a person's life.
  4. Medicine/Medical.
    1. the point in the course of a serious disease at which a decisive change occurs, leading either to recovery or to death.
    2. the change itself.
  5. the point in a play or story at which hostile elements are most tensely opposed to each other.
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  1. of, referring to, or for use in dealing with a crisis.
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Origin of crisis

1375–1425; late Middle English < Latin < Greek krísis decision, equivalent to kri- variant stem of krī́nein to decide, separate, judge + -sis -sis
Related formscri·sic, adjectivepost·cri·sis, adjective, noun, plural post·cri·ses.

Synonyms for crisis

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1. See emergency.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for crisis

crunch, dilemma, catastrophe, emergency, pressure, mess, impasse, confrontation, situation, trouble, deadlock, change, disaster, climax, strait, height, juncture, pass, perplexity, corner

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Historical Examples of crisis

British Dictionary definitions for crisis


noun plural -ses (-siːz)
  1. a crucial stage or turning point in the course of something, esp in a sequence of events or a disease
  2. an unstable period, esp one of extreme trouble or danger in politics, economics, etc
  3. pathol a sudden change, for better or worse, in the course of a disease
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Word Origin for crisis

C15: from Latin: decision, from Greek krisis, from krinein to decide
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 crisis


early 15c., from Latinized form of Greek krisis "turning point in a disease" (used as such by Hippocrates and Galen), literally "judgment, result of a trial, selection," from krinein "to separate, decide, judge," from PIE root *krei- "to sieve, discriminate, distinguish" (cf. Greek krinesthai "to explain;" Old English hriddel "sieve;" Latin cribrum "sieve," crimen "judgment, crime," cernere (past participle cretus) "to sift, separate;" Old Irish criathar, Old Welsh cruitr "sieve;" Middle Irish crich "border, boundary"). Transferred non-medical sense is 1620s in English. A German term for "mid-life crisis" is Torschlusspanik, literally "shut-door-panic," fear of being on the wrong side of a closing gate.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

crisis in Medicine


n. pl. cri•ses (-sēz)
  1. A sudden change in the course of a disease or fever, toward either improvement or deterioration.
  2. An emotionally stressful event or a traumatic change in one's life.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.