Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The point of greatest intensity or force in an ascending series or progression; a culmination. synonym: summit.
  • noun A series of statements or ideas in an ascending order of rhetorical force or intensity.
  • noun The final statement in such a series.
  • noun A moment of great or culminating intensity in a narrative or drama, especially the conclusion of a crisis.
  • noun The turning point in a plot or dramatic action.
  • noun Ecology A climax community.
  • transitive & intransitive verb To bring to or reach a climax.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To reach the highest point or climax; culminate.
  • noun In rhetoric, originally, such an arrangement of successive clauses that the last important word of one is repeated as the first important word of the next; accumulated epanastrophe; hence (since this arrangement is generally adopted for the sake of graduated increase in force or emphasis), a figure by which a series of clauses or phrases is so arranged that each in turn surpasses the preceding one in intensity of expression or importance of meaning. See anticlimax.
  • noun In logic: A sorites, or chain of reasoning.
  • noun The sophism called sorites (which see).
  • noun The highest point of intensity, development, etc.; the culmination; acme: as, he was then at the climax of his fortunes.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun Upward movement; steady increase; gradation; ascent.
  • noun (Rhet.) A figure in which the parts of a sentence or paragraph are so arranged that each succeeding one rises above its predecessor in impressiveness.
  • noun The highest point; the greatest degree.
  • noun [Colloq.] to surpass everything, as in excellence or in absurdity.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The point of greatest intensity or force in an ascending series; a culmination
  • noun The turning point in a plot or in dramatic action, especially one marking a change in the protagonist's affairs.
  • noun A stage of ecological development in which a community of organisms, is stable and capable of perpetuating itself.
  • noun slang An orgasm.
  • noun rhetoric : Ordering of terms in increasing order of importance or magnitude.
  • noun rhetoric : Anadiplosis.
  • verb To reach or bring to a climax
  • verb To orgasm; to reach orgasm

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

  • noun the most severe stage of a disease
  • noun the decisive moment in a novel or play
  • noun arrangement of clauses in ascending order of forcefulness
  • noun the moment of most intense pleasure in sexual intercourse
  • noun the highest point of anything conceived of as growing or developing or unfolding
  • verb end, especially to reach a final or climactic stage

Etymologies

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

[Latin clīmax, rhetorical climax, from Greek klīmax, ladder; see klei- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin clīmax, from Ancient Greek κλῖμαξ (klimaks, "a ladder, a staircase, a climax in rhetoric"), from κλίνω (klinō, "I lean, slant").

Examples

  • The mytho-historical language virus that eats up much of the book has no bearing on the story, the big bad A-Bomb that gets mentioned repeatedly turns out to be of no concern, and the climax is a mob guy beating the bad guy with a skateboard.

    Worst SF/F Book Ever

  • "Stop a bit, Carr; I had not come to it," interrupted Lord Hartledon, who in point of fact had been holding back what he called the climax, in his usual vacillating manner.

    Elster's Folly

  • The climax is exciting, but there are quite a few holes in the plot, and of course in the interests of tension Will and Faith separately break several “detective 101” rules that any seasoned reader of crime fiction will realise way in advance mean big trouble, and so are merely irritating rather than adding to the suspense.

    Book review

  • The climax is exciting, but there are quite a few holes in the plot, and of course in the interests of tension Will and Faith separately break several “detective 101” rules that any seasoned reader of crime fiction will realise way in advance mean big trouble, and so are merely irritating rather than adding to the suspense.

    July 2009

  • Wonderful fight sequences is what you expect out of a Swords & Sorcery novel and Sprunk more than delivers … Shadow's Son had me up late at night as nearly every chapter ended in climax after climax of tight action sequences to see how Caim will get out of the next scrape.

    Archive 2010-05-01

  • The climax is exciting, but there are quite a few holes in the plot, and of course in the interests of tension Will and Faith separately break several “detective 101” rules that any seasoned reader of crime fiction will realise way in advance mean big trouble, and so are merely irritating rather than adding to the suspense.

    Book review: Genesis by Karin Slaughter

  • Wonderful fight sequences is what you expect out of a Swords & Sorcery novel and Sprunk more than delivers … Shadow's Son had me up late at night as nearly every chapter ended in climax after climax of tight action sequences to see how Caim will get out of the next scrape.

    Got Sprunk?

  • The climax is exciting, but there are quite a few holes in the plot, and of course in the interests of tension Will and Faith separately break several “detective 101” rules that any seasoned reader of crime fiction will realise way in advance mean big trouble, and so are merely irritating rather than adding to the suspense.

    PETRONA

  • A work of art can hardly be too short, for its climax is its merit.

    Quoth G.K.C.

  • The climax is exciting, but there are quite a few holes in the plot, and of course in the interests of tension Will and Faith separately break several “detective 101” rules that any seasoned reader of crime fiction will realise way in advance mean big trouble, and so are merely irritating rather than adding to the suspense.

    Book review: Genesis by Karin Slaughter

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • A ghost town in Colorado, USA. There is no truth in the rumours that it was recently purchased by uselessness.

    Climax was once the highest settlement in the USA. The town was effectively closed down when the molybdenum deposits were worked out.

    January 1, 2008

  • Further research shows that there are also towns named Climax in Michigan, North Carolina, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Saskatchewan and Minnesota. The last is just down the road from Fertile, MN ... hence the famous newspaper headline about a fatal car accident: "Fertile Woman Dies in Climax".

    January 2, 2008

  • Climax is derived from the Greek word for 'ladder'. And there's more history at the OUP blog.

    August 7, 2008

  • And don't forget that the derived adjective is climactic!

    November 3, 2008

  • to be rung out?-*etymologically speaking*

    *has a certain ring to it!*

    January 28, 2013