[ kuhsp ]
/ kʌsp /
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Origin of cusp

First recorded in 1575–85, cusp is from the Latin word cuspis a point


cuspal, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is a cusp?

Most often, cusp is used figuratively to mean a turning point or a point that marks a new beginning, as in Jorge was on the cusp of a scientific breakthrough when his grant money ran out.

Literally, a cusp is a point or pointed end, as with the peak of a mountain.

Cusp also has several specialized uses, too. In anatomy and related fields, a cusp is the tip, as on a tooth. Your dentist might refer to your cuspid and bicuspid teeth. These are teeth with one point and two points, respectively.

In architecture, a cusp is the apex of two curves that come to a point, found especially in Gothic arches.

And in astronomy, a cusp is the point of a crescent, such as with the moon.

Example: We are on the cusp of a great discovery.

Where does cusp come from?

The first records of the term cusp come from the 1570s. It comes from the Latin cuspis, meaning “a point.”

You’re likely to hear the phrase on the cusp. Literally this means “on the border between two things.” This can be literal, as with borderlines drawn between properties or with someone who is standing right on the edge of something about to drop off of it. However, it’s more often figurative, such as referring to the space between or overlap of two concepts or someone being about to do something. For example, someone born on the first day of a new zodiac sign is said to be on the cusp of the sign that came before it. And someone can say they are on the cusp of a victory or a failure.

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How is cusp used in real life?

Cusp is most often used figuratively to describe being on the verge of something.


Try using cusp!

Is cusp used correctly in the following sentence?

I was on the cusp of failing history class when I got an A that saved my grade.

How to use cusp in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for cusp

/ (kʌsp) /


Word Origin for cusp

C16: from Latin cuspis point, pointed end
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