( P )
(krss)n. pl. cri·ses (-sz)
A crucial or decisive point or
situation; a turning point.
An unstable condition, as in political, social,
or economic affairs, involving an impending abrupt or decisive change.
A sudden change in the course of a disease or fever, toward either improvement or
An emotionally stressful event or traumatic change in a
person's life.
A point in a story or drama when a conflict reaches its
highest tension and must be resolved.

I have lately been giving a lot of energy to this word, and its misuse. Often I hear about the many crises in our society: America's Health Care Crisis, "Google's coming crisis, Energy crisis, Iran's Nuclear Crisis, etc.

I confess that I thought that crisis was much more dire than its definition would indicate. I guess that would have to do with annotaion vs connotation? As a result, I am going to reevaluate my reaction to media reports of these various crises. Perhaps we should not care so much? After all, there is nothing in the definitions to indicate any immediate threat, is there? And if immediate action is required, can all these things and more REALLY be crises?

Which is it? Tired hyperbole that can only serve to further desensitise our ears? Or clever use of our pentential ignorance of the English language?


wolske said…
Good points.

I think the media wants to have it both ways -- they want the word 'crisis' to imply the most dire situation, but then at the same time they use the word so often that they devalue it.

Right now I can't think of a single thing that is a crisis. Katrina is the most recent thing that I can think of that qualified as a crisis. Even then, I would only classify the days immediately following as a crisis, not all point-and-blame that has gone on since.

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