verb (used without object), cul·mi·nat·ed, cul·mi·nat·ing.

to reach the highest point, summit, or highest development (usually followed by in).
to end or arrive at a final stage (usually followed by in): The argument culminated in a fistfight.
to rise to or form an apex; terminate (usually followed by in): The tower culminates in a tall spire.
Astronomy. (of a celestial body) to be on the meridian, or reach the highest or the lowest altitude.

verb (used with object), cul·mi·nat·ed, cul·mi·nat·ing.

to bring to a close; complete; climax: A rock song culminates the performance.

Origin of culminate

1640–50; < Late Latin culminātus (past participle of culmināre to come to a peak), equivalent to Latin culmin- (stem of culmen) peak, top + -ātus -ate1
Related formsnon·cul·mi·nat·ing, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for culminate

conclude, climax, cap, terminate, end, finish, crown, close

Examples from the Web for culminate

Contemporary Examples of culminate

Historical Examples of culminate

  • And all science must culminate at last in the science of healing—not the weak, but the strong.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

  • All that terrible day seemed to culminate in this overwhelming misfortune.

    The House Under the Sea

    Sir Max Pemberton

  • What was more natural than that their friendship should culminate in a deeper feeling!


    Anna Balmer Myers

  • It was Bassano who started that great Spanish school which was to culminate in Velasquez.


    Dorothy Menpes

  • In them the antichristian might of the beast will culminate.

British Dictionary definitions for culminate



(when intr, usually foll by in) to end or cause to end, esp to reach or bring to a final or climactic stage
(intr) (of a celestial body) to cross the meridian of the observer

Word Origin for culminate

C17: from Late Latin culmināre to reach the highest point, from Latin culmen top
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 culminate

1640s, from Late Latin culminatus past participle of culminare "to top, to crown," from Latin culmen (genitive culminis) "top, peak, summit, roof, gable," also used figuratively, contraction of columen (see column). Related: Culminated; culminating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper