November 28, 2012
culminate (verb)
\KUL-muh-nayt\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: to reach the highest point
How do you use it?
The actress's career culminated in an Academy Award for her last film performance.
Are you a word wiz?

"Culminate" was used originally in a particular field of study or activity. Which field do you think that is?

You're at the top of your game if you chose C, astronomy! When the verb "culminate" came into English in the 1600s, it was used in astronomy for heavenly bodies that were reaching their highest point in the sky. But it wasn't too long--less than a century, in fact--before "culminate" was used to refer to anything reaching its highest point. "Culminate" stems from the Latin word "culmen," meaning "top."
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