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From Latin clīmactēricus, from Hellenistic Ancient Greek κλιμακτηρικός (klimaktērikós, scale, progression, gradation), from κλιμακτήρ (klimaktḗr).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /klʌɪmakˈtɛɹɪk/, /klʌɪˈmaktəɹɪk/


climacteric (comparative more climacteric, superlative most climacteric)

  1. Pertaining to any of several supposedly critical years of a person's life. [from 17th c.]
    • 1971, Keith Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic, Folio Society 2012, p. 596:
      Closely parallel to the belief in unlucky days was the notion of climacteric years, those periodic dates in a man's life which were potential turning-points in his health and fortune.
  2. Critical or crucial; decisive. [from 17th c.]
  3. (medicine) Relating to a period of physiological change during middle age; especially, menopausal. [from 18th c.]
  4. Climactic. [from 18th c.]

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climacteric (plural climacterics)

  1. A critical stage or decisive point; a turning point. [from 17th c.]
    • (Can we date this quote by Southey and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      It is your lot, as it was mine, to live during one of the grand climacterics of the world.
    • Sketch of Connecticut, Forty Years Since, p. 66-67.
      [H]e was in his grand climacterick, with a florid brow, and a step like youthful agility. Sigourney, Lydia.
    • (Can we date this quote?), Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France., p. 52.
      I should hardly yield my rigid fibers to be regenerated by them; nor begin, in my grand climacteric, to squall in their new accents, or to stammer, in my second cradle, the elemental sounds of their barbarous metaphysics.
  2. A period in human life in which some great change is supposed to take place, calculated in different ways by different authorities (often identified as every seventh or ninth year). [from 17th c.]
  3. (medicine) The period of life that leads up to and follows the end of menstruation in women; the menopause. [from 18th c.]
    • 1998, Smith, Roger N J, and Studd, John W. W., The Menopause and Hormone Replacement Therapy, p. 8:
      Once women have traversed the turmoil of the climacteric years and reached the hormonal steady-state of the post-menopause, there is almost certainly no increase in the incidence of depression.

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