1706, from French crucial, a medical term for ligaments of the knee (which cross each other), from Latin crux, crucis (English crux), from the Proto-Indo-European *(s)ker-.

The meaning “decisive, critical” is extended from a logical term, Instantias Crucis, adopted by Francis Bacon in his influential Novum Organum (1620); the notion is of cross fingerboard signposts at forking roads, thus a requirement to choose.

  • IPA: /ˈkɹuː.ʃəl/


  1. Essential or decisive for determining the outcome or future of something; extremely important.
    Synonyms: Thesaurus:important
    The battle of Tali-Ihantala in 1944 is one of the crucial moments in the history of Finland.
    A secure supply of crude oil is crucial for any modern nation, let alone a superpower.
  2. (archaic) Cruciform or cruciate; cross-shaped.
  3. (slang, chiefly, Jamaica) Very good; excellent; particularly applied to reggae music.
    Delbert Wilkins is the most crucial pirate radio DJ in Brixton.
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