Definition of crisis in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkrīsis/

noun (plural crises /-ˌsēz/)

1A time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger: the current economic crisis a family in crisis a crisis of semiliteracy among high school graduates
More example sentences
  • I also have a good job and salary, which is enough to feed an entire family during the economic crisis.
  • But there is a very realistic danger that a cash crisis could trip them up on the way to the altar.
  • Generally the more extreme the economic crisis, the larger the war tends to be.
emergency, disaster, catastrophe, calamity;
predicament, plight, mess, trouble, dire straits, difficulty, extremity
1.1A time when a difficult or important decision must be made: [as modifier]: a crisis point of history
More example sentences
  • The decision expresses differences and conflicts that have reached a crisis point.
  • Dr Williams' decision to call the crisis meeting places his authority on the line as never before.
  • By 1595, a crisis point had been reached and the so-called Nine Years War was under way.
critical point, turning point, crossroads, watershed, head, moment of truth, zero hour, point of no return, Rubicon, doomsday
informal crunch
Medicine  climacteric
1.2The turning point of a disease when an important change takes place, indicating either recovery or death.
Example sentences
  • Another challenge is dealing with exacerbation or crises in the disease when the antibody titer reaches very high levels.
  • Dr. Tilden said that diseases were crises of toxemia.
  • The literature indicates that hypertensive and hyperthermic crises may occur when high doses are given.


Late Middle English (denoting the turning point of a disease): medical Latin, from Greek krisis 'decision', from krinein 'decide'. The general sense 'decisive point' dates from the early 17th century.

  • At one time a crisis was specifically the turning point of a disease, a change that leads either to recovery or death. The source is Greek krisis ‘a decision’, from krinein ‘to decide, judge’ also the root of critic (early 17th century), critical (late 16th century), and criterion (early 17th century). Its more general sense ‘decisive point’ dates from the early 17th century. Crisis? What crisis? is often attributed to the British Prime Minister James Callaghan, but it was in fact coined by a headline writer in the newspaper the Sun. Returning to London from a meeting in the Caribbean in January 1979 during the ‘Winter of Discontent’ when the country was plagued by strikes and economic problems, Callaghan was interviewed at London Airport. He gave the comment ‘I don't think other people in the world would share the view there is mounting chaos.’ The next day the Sun's headline read: ‘Crisis? What Crisis?’

Words that rhyme with crisis


For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: cri·sis

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