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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.]



climacteric (plural climacterics)

  1. A critical stage or decisive point; a turning point. [from 17th c.]
    • Southey
      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.
    • Burke, Edmund. 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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