• Crucial


    • IPA: /ˈkruː.ʃəl/
    • Rhymes: -uːʃəl


    1706, from French crucial, a medical term for ligaments of the knee (which cross each other), from Latin crux, crucis ("cross") (English crux), from the Proto-Indo-European *(s)ker- ("to turn, to bend").

    The meaning “decisive, critical” is extended from a logical term, Instantias Crucis, adopted by Francis Bacon in his influential Novum Organum (1620); the notion is of cross fingerboard signposts at forking roads, thus a requirement to choose. Specific quote is:

    Novum Organum, Francis Bacon, Book Two, “Aphorisms”, Section XXXVI

    Inter praerogativas instantiarum, ponemus loco decimo quarto Instantias Crucis; translato vocabulo a Crucibus, quae erectae in biviis indicant et signant viarum separationes.

    Full definition of crucial



    1. Being essential or decisive for determining the outcome or future of something; extremely important.
      The battle of Tali-Ihantala in 1944 is one of the crucial moments in the history of Finland.
      A secure supply of crude oil is crucial for any modern nation, let alone a superpower.
    2. (archaic) Cruciform or cruciate; cross-shaped.
    3. (slang, chiefly Jamaica) Term of approval, particularly when applied to reggae music.
      Delbert Wilkins is the most crucial pirate radio DJ in Brixton.

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