What does climax mean?


climax is the most intense, decisive point of something, especially in a story or film. In the bedroom, that point is the orgasm.

Examples of climax


Examples of climax
A study found that more than 30 areas of the brain were active when a woman stimulated herself to climax, including those involved in pain.
@RealStrongfacts, July 2016

The only drawbacks of the film are its noticeable tendency to abruptly change from scene to scene for most of its run time, although it becomes slightly better toward the end, and a somewhat underwhelming climax — a chase between a fearful group of humans following the discovery of yeti existence.

Overall, the action scenes in “Smallfoot” are successful, but the climax falls short.

Alex Novak, Kent Wired, September 2018
Getty Images

Where does climax come from?


We can ultimately thank Greek for the word climax, which literally means “ladder.”

The word is recorded in English as early as the 1530s and originally referred to a rhetorical device where ideas are arranged in a way that increase in intensity or importance.

By the 1640s, climax was referring to the culmination of something, such as a competition or story. Many literature students will know climax as the peak or pivotal moment in plays, as modeled by 19th-century German dramatist Gustav Freytag in his namesake, Freytag’s pyramid.

Rook Reading

Climax lent itself to sex by the 1870s, used in scientific literature for the orgasm of a person. Both climax and orgasm are considered more polite terms than, say, slang expressions like cumming.

The Book Patch

The opposite of a climax is an anticlimax, when something is far less important, powerful, or striking than expected—a letdown.

Who uses climax?

When something is considered a climax, it can be described as climactic. Same goes for anticlimax, i.e., anticlimactic.

Literature teachers and students will discuss climaxes when analyzing the plot or structure of a story. Climax also sees frequent use in discussion of films, especially their most exciting or significant parts.

More generally, a climax can refer to the “high point” something has built up to, e.g., The climax of my week was the surprise office party on Friday.

Plenty of erotic novels or pornography titles may feature the word climax, though climax is generally considered inoffensive. In sexual contexts, climax is often used as a verb for “having an orgasm.”

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