Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Culminate

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is culminate. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Culminate usually means “to reach the highest or a climactic or decisive point,” or “to reach the end or final result of something.”

// The festivities will culminate with a spectacular display of fireworks.

// The partnership between the two songwriters culminated at last in a chart-topping single.

CULMINATE in Context

“The trail culminates at a mountaintop summit with handcrafted log benches as well as views of Lake Tahoe in one direction, Granite Chief Wilderness in the other.” – The Mountain Democrat (Placerville, California), 28 July 2021

Did You Know?

When a star or other heavenly body culminates, it reaches its highest point above the horizon from the vantage point of an observer on the ground. Culminate was drawn from Medieval Latin culminare, meaning “to crown,” specifically for this astronomical application. Its ultimate root is Latin culmen, meaning “top.” Today, the word’s typical context is less lofty: it can mean “to reach a climactic point,” as in “a long career culminating in a prestigious award,” but it can also simply mean “to reach the end of something,” as in “a sentence culminating in a period.”

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