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[krahy-sis] /ˈkraɪ sɪs/
noun, plural crises
[krahy-seez] /ˈkraɪ siz/ (Show IPA)
a stage in a sequence of events at which the trend of all future events, especially for better or for worse, is determined; turning point.
a condition of instability or danger, as in social, economic, political, or international affairs, leading to a decisive change.
a dramatic emotional or circumstantial upheaval in a person's life.
  1. the point in the course of a serious disease at which a decisive change occurs, leading either to recovery or to death.
  2. the change itself.
the point in a play or story at which hostile elements are most tensely opposed to each other.
of, referring to, or for use in dealing with a crisis.
Origin of crisis
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English < Latin < Greek krísis decision, equivalent to kri- variant stem of krī́nein to decide, separate, judge + -sis -sis
Related forms
crisic, adjective
postcrisis, adjective, noun, plural postcrises.
1. See emergency. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for crisis


noun (pl) -ses (-siːz)
a crucial stage or turning point in the course of something, esp in a sequence of events or a disease
an unstable period, esp one of extreme trouble or danger in politics, economics, etc
(pathol) a sudden change, for better or worse, in the course of a disease
Word Origin
C15: from Latin: decision, from Greek krisis, from krinein to decide
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for crisis

early 15c., from Latinized form of Greek krisis "turning point in a disease" (used as such by Hippocrates and Galen), literally "judgment, result of a trial, selection," from krinein "to separate, decide, judge," from PIE root *krei- "to sieve, discriminate, distinguish" (cf. Greek krinesthai "to explain;" Old English hriddel "sieve;" Latin cribrum "sieve," crimen "judgment, crime," cernere (past participle cretus) "to sift, separate;" Old Irish criathar, Old Welsh cruitr "sieve;" Middle Irish crich "border, boundary"). Transferred non-medical sense is 1620s in English. A German term for "mid-life crisis" is Torschlusspanik, literally "shut-door-panic," fear of being on the wrong side of a closing gate.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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crisis in Medicine

crisis cri·sis (krī'sĭs)
n. pl. cri·ses (-sēz)

  1. A sudden change in the course of a disease or fever, toward either improvement or deterioration.

  2. An emotionally stressful event or a traumatic change in one's life.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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