cli·max / ˈklīˌmaks/ • n. the most intense, exciting, or important point of something; a culmination or apex: the climax of her speech. ∎ an orgasm. ∎ Ecol. the final stage in a succession in a given environment, at which a plant community reaches a state of equilibrium: [as adj.] a mixed hardwood climax forest. ∎ Rhetoric a sequence of propositions or ideas in order of increasing importance, force, or effectiveness of expression. • v. [intr.] culminate in an exciting or impressive event; reach a climax. ∎ [tr.] bring (something) to a climax. ∎ have an orgasm.
1. In rhetoric, an ascending series of words, ideas, or events, in which intensity and significance increase step by step: ‘For want of a nail the shoe was lost; for want of a shoe the horse was lost; and for want of a horse the rider was lost’ ( Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack, 1758).
2. In drama, a crisis or moment of decision. In a five-act play, such as Shakespeare's, the climax usually occurs near the end of the third act.
3. In general usage, the highest or most intense point in an experience or series of events. By implication, anything following a climax is anticlimactic, but a work of literature, a drama, and life itself may sustain a series of minor and major climaxes. Generally, in the 20c, a play, novel, or film ends after its main climax. See ANTICLIMAX.