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Recorded since 1647, from Medieval Latin culminatus, the past participle of culminare (to crown), from Latin culmen (peak, the highest point), older form columen (top, summit), from a Proto-Indo-European base *kol-, *kel- (to project, rise; peak, summit, top), whence also English hill and holm.


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culminate (third-person singular simple present culminates, present participle culminating, simple past and past participle culminated)

  1. (intransitive, astronomy) Of a heavenly body, to be at the highest point, reach its greatest altitude.
  2. (intransitive, also figuratively) To reach the (physical) summit, highest point, peak etc.
    Synonym: peak
    • Milton
      As when his beams at noon / Culminate from the equator.
    • Dana
      The reptile race culminated in the secondary era.
    • Motley
      The house of Burgundy was rapidly culminating.
  3. (intransitive, figuratively) To reach a climax; to come to the decisive point (especially as an end or conclusion).
    • 2006 September 12, “President Bush’s Reality”, in New York Times[1]:
      Mr. Bush has been marking the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11 with a series of speeches about terrorism that culminated with his televised address last night.
    Their messy breakup culminated in a restraining order.
    The class will culminate with a rigorous examination.
  4. (transitive) To finalize, bring to a conclusion, form the climax of.
    • 2010, "By the skin of her teeth", The Economist, 7 Sep 2010:
      The announcement by Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott in Canberra culminated more than a fortnight of intensive political horse-trading.

Related termsEdit


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


culminate (not comparable)

  1. (anatomy) Relating to the culmen

Further readingEdit