• enPR: klīʹ-măks IPA: /ˈklaɪmæks/


  1. (originally, rhetoric) A rhetorical device in which a series is arranged in ascending order.
    • [1835, L[arret] Langley, A Manual of the Figures of Rhetoric, […], Doncaster: Printed by C. White, Baxter-Gate, OCLC 1062248511 ↗, page 26 ↗:
      Climax, by steps advancing, onward goes
      Higher and still more high to an impassion'd close.]
  2. (obsolete) An instance of such an ascending series.
    • 1781, John Moore, A view of society and manners in Italy, Vol. I, Ch. vi, p. 63:
      ...Expressions for the whole Climax of sensibility...
  3. (now commonly) A culmination or acme: the last term in an ascending series, particularly:
    • 1789, Trifler, 448, No. XXXV:
      In the accomplishment of this, they frequently reach the climax of absurdity.
    1. (rhetoric, imprecise) The final term of a rhetorical climax.
      • 1856, Ralph Waldo Emerson, English Traits, Ch. ix, p. 147:
        When he adds epithets of praise, his climax is ‘so English’.
    2. (ecology) The culmination of ecological development, whereby species are in equilibrium with their environment.
      • 1915 July 17, Bulletin of the Illinois State Laboratory:
        The succession of associations leading to a climax represents the process of adjustment to the conditions of stress, and the climax represents a condition of relative equilibrium. Climax associations... are the resultants of certain climatic, geological... conditions.
    3. The culmination of sexual pleasure, an orgasm.
      • 1918, Marie Carmichael Stopes, Married love, 50:
        In many cases the man's climax comes so swiftly that the woman's reactions are not nearly ready.
    4. (narratology) The culmination of a narrative's rising action, the turning point.
Synonyms Antonyms Related terms Translations Translations Translations Verb

climax (climaxes, present participle climaxing; past and past participle climaxed)

  1. (ambitransitive) To reach or bring to a climax.
  2. (intransitive) To orgasm; to reach orgasm.

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