The Vocabularist: Where did the word ‘crisis’ come from?

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Barely a week passes without something being referred to as a crisis. But what makes a crisis a crisis, asks Trevor Timpson.

The Greek word krino meant separate, judge or decide, and from it came the nouns krites “judge” – from which we get critic, and kriterion, a test to judge by.

The related word “krisis” signified the preference of one alternative over another. The Day of Judgement is hemera kriseos, in the Greek New Testament – truly a crisis for those at risk of damnation.

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