Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A period of life characterized by physiological and psychic change that marks the end of the reproductive capacity of women and terminates with the completion of menopause.
  • n. A corresponding period sometimes occurring in men that may be marked by a reduction in sexual activity, although fertility is retained.
  • n. A critical period or year in a person's life when major changes in health or fortune are thought to take place.
  • n. A critical stage, period, or year: "before the end of the millennium, whether [he] lives to see that ecclesiastical climacteric or not” ( Conor Cruise O'Brien).
  • adj. Of or relating to a climacteric.
  • adj. Critical; crucial.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A period in human life in which some great change is supposed to take place in the constitution. The critical periods are thought by some to be the years produced by multiplying 7 into the odd numbers 3, 5, 7, and 9; to which others add the 81st year.
  • n. The period of life that leads up to and follows the end of menstruation in women; the change of life
  • n. A critical stage or decisive point; a crisis
  • adj. Of or pertaining to the climacteric
  • adj. critical or crucial

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Relating to a climacteric; critical.
  • n. A period in human life in which some great change is supposed to take place in the constitution. The critical periods are thought by some to be the years produced by multiplying 7 into the odd numbers 3, 5, 7, and 9; to which others add the 81st year.
  • n. Any critical period.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Pertaining to a critical period, crisis, or climax.
  • n. A critical period in life, or a period in winch some great change is supposed to take place in the human constitution; especially, the so-called change of life or menopause.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the time in a woman's life in which the menstrual cycle ends
  • n. a period in a man's life corresponding to menopause

Etymologies

From Latin clīmactēricus, of a dangerous period in life, from Greek klīmaktērikos, from klīmaktēr, dangerous point, rung of a ladder, from klīmax, ladder; see climax.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin climactericus, from Ancient Greek κλίμάκτήρίκος ("scale, progression, gradation"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Fruits that do continue ripening off the tree are called climacteric.

    The Fruit Hunters

  • "The years of the climacteric are the most troublesome in married life," the Czechoslovakian physician Arnold Lorand declared in his 1910 classic "Old Age Deferred" -- "not only for the wife, who is directly affected by it, but also in almost equal degree for the husband, who must show the greatest forbearance."

    The End Of The Age Of Estrogen

  • The menopause, also called the climacteric, and in common language

    Woman Her Sex and Love Life

  • If ever people could apply the word "climacteric" to a period of the World's history you can apply it to this period.

    Confessions of a New Canadian

  • "climacteric" years which someone had mentioned in his presence and the meaning of which he did not himself very well understand.

    Knock, Knock, Knock and Other Stories

  • All that he did know was that a climacteric in his life had been attained.

    Chapter 40

  • As she leaned her head on her hand, a fleeting vision of her own girlhood, with its mournful climacteric and tragic ebb, was vouchsafed her, and for the moment she was minded to read him a lesson from it.

    Jack London Play:The Scorn of Women

  • This I knew: I had reached an intellectual and artistic climacteric, a life-climacteric of some sort.

    CHAPTER VIII

  • He had the "Love-sonnets from the Portuguese" in mind as he wrote, and he wrote under the best conditions for great work, at a climacteric of living, in the throes of his own sweet love-madness.

    Chapter 20

  • Bunning reached some new climacteric of pathetic whining when he bewailed, on the Senate floor, the fact that his own filibuster had caused him to miss a big baseball game on TV.

    Jim Bunning: Too Mean and Weird for the GOP

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Comments

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  • JM is anticipating a grand climacteric in the next year or so.

    October 5, 2010

  • Citation on bib.

    October 8, 2008

  • "'...to say nothing of the falling damps, so fatal to those that have passed the climacteric...'"
    --Patrick O'Brian, The Ionian Mission, 80

    February 13, 2008

  • Yet I believe you must not expect him to be honest on this side of his grand climacteric.

    Anna Howe to Clarissa Harlowe, Clarissa by Samuel Richardson

    December 11, 2007