crucible

[ kroo-suh-buh l ]
/ ˈkru sə bəl /

noun

a container of metal or refractory material employed for heating substances to high temperatures.
Metallurgy. a hollow area at the bottom of a furnace in which the metal collects.
a severe, searching test or trial.

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Origin of crucible

1400–50; late Middle English crusible, corusible < Medieval Latin crucibulum; compare Anglo-French crusil, Old French croi-suel, croisol night lamp, crucible < Gallo-Romance *croceolus (of uncertain origin), probably Latinized on the model of tūribulum thurible
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

VOCAB BUILDER

What does crucible mean?

A crucible is a severe test or trial or an extremely challenging experience.

This figurative sense of crucible is based on the literal meaning of the word: a heat-resistant container used to melt metals. Crucible in the literal sense is used in the context of metallurgy, the science of working with and refining metals. The word is perhaps best known from its use as the title of the 1953 play The Crucible by Arthur Miller.

Example: Their friendship was forged in the crucible of boot camp.

Where does crucible come from?

Crucible is first recorded in English in the 1400s. It comes from the Medieval Latin crucibulum, which meant “pot used for melting metals” or “night lamp,” but its ultimate origin is uncertain. The first part of the word may be based on the root cruci-, meaning “cross-shaped” (as in crucifix), but it’s not known for sure.

Crucibles have been used for at least hundreds of years. In the Middle Ages, when the practice of alchemy was turning into chemistry, early scientists used different forms of crucibles to perform experiments with metals. During the American gold rush, makeshift crucibles were used to process gold.

The figurative use of crucible is closely associated with Miller’s play, which uses the Salem Witch Trials of the late 1690s as a metaphor for the persecution of supposed Communist sympathizers in the United States (known as McCarthyism) that was happening around the time the play was written. However, crucible has been used to mean “a severe test” since the 1600s. Crucible is usually applied to a situation that tests a person’s character and perhaps changes them forever. The association of extreme heat with extremely challenging experiences can be found in many other expressions, such as trial by fire.

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What are some synonyms for crucible?

What are some words that often get used in discussing crucible?

 

How is crucible used in real life?

Crucible is most commonly used to refer to situations that represent an extreme trial for someone, especially one that tests their courage or preparedness.

 

 

Try using crucible!

When used in its literal sense, crucible appears in the context of what practice?

A. metallurgy
B. baking
C. carpentry
D. painting

Example sentences from the Web for crucible

British Dictionary definitions for crucible (1 of 2)

crucible
/ (ˈkruːsɪbəl) /

noun

a vessel in which substances are heated to high temperatures
the hearth at the bottom of a metallurgical furnace in which the metal collects
a severe trial or test

Word Origin for crucible

C15 corusible, from Medieval Latin crūcibulum night lamp, crucible, of uncertain origin

British Dictionary definitions for crucible (2 of 2)

Crucible
/ (ˈkruːsɪbəl) /

noun

the Crucible a Sheffield theatre, venue of the annual world professional snooker championship
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

Scientific definitions for crucible

crucible
[ krōōsə-bəl ]

A heat-resistant container used to melt ores, metals, and other materials.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.