Definition of climacteric in English:


Pronunciation /klʌɪˈmakt(ə)rɪk//ˌklʌɪmakˈtɛrɪk/


  • 1A critical period or event.

    ‘the first major climacteric in twentieth-century poetry’
    • ‘By contrast, Dickens's second protagonist, Oliver Twist, experiences what seems set to be his climacteric in an intensely fraught boyhood.’
    • ‘The destruction of the Babri Masjid was an important climacteric in the decline of the administration.’
    • ‘This process of alternative and individual reading reaches its climacteric in the ‘full flood of unlicensed text and independent thought’ of the 1640s.’
    • ‘But the First World War shocked even him, and that was probably a climacteric.’
    • ‘In the end, this subplot becomes a mere plot device when the out-of-control avenging husband bails up O'Reilly at the climacteric.’
    • ‘The sight of him obediently doing this is an awe-inspiring climacteric in his career.’
    • ‘The released film now opens with the final scenes of Eddie's ejection from his government job for reasons which will not become apparent until the climacteric of Three Dollars.’
    • ‘The year 1981 was a major climacteric for the politicization of policing, most obviously because of the urban riots, unprecedented in the twentieth century.’
    critical point, decisive point, turning point, crossroads, critical period, crux, climax, culmination, height, head, moment of truth, zero hour, point of no return, rubicon
    View synonyms
  • 2Medicine
    The period of life when fertility and sexual activity are in decline; (in women) menopause.

    ‘most women do not experience significant psychological problems at the climacteric’
    • ‘The climacteric arrived with a massive run on the pound.’
    • ‘A transitional period occurs prior to menopause termed the climacteric or perimenopause.’
    • ‘Whatever the nomenclature, be it male menopause or climacteric or age related hypotestosteronaemia, men presenting with symptoms outlined in the box should be investigated.’
    • ‘Lock starts the chapter with an interesting historical review of the emergence of the female climacteric or menopause in medical and psychoanalytic discourse.’
    • ‘At the climacteric, various symptoms such as forgetfulness, hot flush, depressive neurosis, abnormal sensation, and sleeplessness are often observed, due to hypofunction of the ovaries.’
  • 3Botany
    The ripening period of certain fruits such as apples, involving increased metabolism and only possible while still on the tree.

    ‘ripening accompanied by a sharp rise in respiration, the so-called climacteric’
    • ‘Thus it appears that some aspects of ethylene-dependent gene expression are conserved between climacteric fruits such as melon and tomato.’
    • ‘In climacteric fruits such as peaches and tomato, ripening is associated with a characteristic burst of respiration which correlates with an increase in ethylene production.’
    • ‘It is thought that the increase in ethylene responsiveness during petal development culminates in the ethylene climacteric.’
    • ‘Ethylene plays a major role in initiating ripening in climacteric fruits such as tomato and apple.’
    • ‘Conflicting results have been reported during the ripening of climacteric fruits after harvest.’


  • 1Having extreme and far-reaching implications or results; critical.

    ‘Britain must possess so climacteric a weapon in order to deter an atomically armed enemy’
    • ‘Given these emphases on significant dates, it may not be coincidental that the Ara Pacis was begun during the year in which Augustus reached the climacteric age of fifty.’
    • ‘The fact that such a climacteric event of our history is not being taught is disconcerting.’
    • ‘There are two aspects of this climacteric event to be considered in relation to the history of our civilization.’
    pivotal, critical, key, decisive, deciding, determining, settling, testing, trying, searching
    View synonyms
  • 2Medicine
    Occurring at, characteristic of, or undergoing the climacteric; (in women) menopausal.

    ‘every year adds new symptoms to climacteric syndrome’
    • ‘Again, the results revealed no significant differences in climacteric symptoms or well-being between the groups.’
    • ‘In females about 50 years old, various symptoms of climacteric disorders may appear with the decline of ovarian function.’
    • ‘The authors conclude that a dosage of 114 mg per day of phytoestrogens for three months does not relieve hot flushes or other climacteric symptoms.’
    • ‘We studied the effects of daily use of isoflavonoids on climacteric symptoms and quality of life in patients with a history of breast cancer.’
    • ‘Both Western and Chinese herbal traditions have numerous solutions for climacteric women.’
  • 3Botany
    (of a fruit) undergoing a climacteric.

    ‘it doesn't ripen off the tree, being a climacteric fruit’
    • ‘In the climacteric fruit tomato, ethylene is perceived by a family of six receptor proteins.’
    • ‘Ripening is physiologically divided into two distinct classes: climacteric and non-climacteric.’
    • ‘Pear are climacteric fruit: their ripening is associated with a burst of autocatalytic ethylene production.’
    • ‘The majority of this work, however, has been conducted on climacteric species.’
    • ‘As a senescing hormone, it promotes leaf-yellowing, climacteric fruit ripening, flower and leaf abscission.’


Mid 16th century (in the sense ‘constituting a critical period in life’): from French climactérique or via Latin from Greek klimaktērikos, from klimaktēr ‘critical period’, from klimax ‘ladder, climax’.