Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Climacteric - Sevens Above!

The number 63
The Grand Climacteric
(63 to the layperson)
(photo by Chris)


Adjective & noun. Mid-16th century.
[French climactérique or Latin climactericus, from Greek klimakterikos, from klimakter critical period, from klimax.]

A1(a) adj. Pertaining to or constituting a critical period in human life; critical, fatal. M16

A1(b) adj. MEDICINE. Occuring at or characteristic of a period of life when (male) fertility and sexual activity are in decline;
(in women) menopausal. E19


B noun. A supposedly critical stage in human life, especially occurring at ages that are multiples of seven years;
a critical period, point or epoch. M17

grand climacteric (designating) the 63rd year of life, supposed to be specially critical.

climacter obsolete noun = climacteric. E-M17
climacterical adj. + obsolete noun = climacteric. L16

If you're one for poring over lists of easily confused words, you'll be familiar with the oft muddled adjectives climatic and climactic, the first referring to matters of climate, of course, and the latter relating to climax. If you like these lists, you'll be delighted to know that there's another word, one that such lists often irresponsibility omit - climacteric, which refers to a critical stage in one's life, and specifically to the menopause in women and the andropause in men. Oh, and it's also a synonym for climactic (that's the climax one), just in case it was getting a bit too simple for you. As for climacteric years, these are the ages that are divisible by seven which, because of some astrological mumbo jumbo, have been held as significant since antiquity.

Do you confuse climatic, climactic and climacteric?

Are you in your grand climacteric?

Do please weather the storm and leave your most critical comments in the box below.


  1. My age is not divisible by 7, so that means I'm not in a climacteric year.
    Which means I'm not climacteric (don't argue with me! ).
    Which means I'm not menopausal.
    Which means I'm not old.

    1. All perfectly logical, Jingles. And no one here ever thought you were old.

  2. But since Tursday I AM in a climacteric year. I don't mind it it's critical, but I'd prefer it's not fatal. Still, I'm all for a bit of excitement.

    1. Oh hang on ... I've just realised I'm in a climacteric year too!

      Oh wow.

      I'm just going to sit here patiently and see what happens ...

      Dum de dum ...

  3. I find that when my age is divisible by seven the fine weather can bring on a sudden case of over-excitement. In other words, when I'm climactic, I'm prone to climatic climaxes.

    1. Whoops. That should have said "when I'm climacteric..."
      Stupid predictive text!

    2. You mean your predictive text doesn't recognise a simple word like 'climacteric'? Tut tut. The slipping standards of technology.

    3. Once again technology has made me look like an idiot.

  4. So far I have survived 10.8 climacterics. Looking forward to the big one. Anyway, it's got my name on it.

    1. So it has! There's got to be a joke in that somewhere - a really nerdy joke that only about five etymologists in the world are going to get ...