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Home » » Climax Definition & meaning

It is figure in which a series of words, phrases or ideas is arranged in an ascending order of importance or emphasis.

It comes from the Greek word klimax which means a ladder. Just as in a ladder we go up from a lower stage to a higher one,  so in climax we gradually rise from a less important idea to a more important one.

In climax each succeeding idea is more striking and impressive than the previous one.  As a result the sense rises gradually and gains in impressiveness,  important and force at every step. In other words, we observe in it a regular gradation of ideas-a rise from the least impressive to the most impressive. The effect of this figure,  when skilfully handled, particularly in drama or oratory,  can be highly moving. It should be noted that sometimes the word which ends the first part of a sentence occupies the first position of the second part,  and so on.

In the example ' I came,  I saw,  I conquered' we note first a series of ideas ; then we note that they are arranged in such a way that their sense rises at every stage in an order of increasing Importance. 

The chief characteristics of a climax are given below:

(i) It consists of a series of ideas,words or phrases 

(ii) The least significant of them comes first and the most significant one comes last

(iii) There is an order or gradation in the arrangement of ideas which proceeds from the lower to the higher. 



Simple, erect, severe, austere, sublime


To strive, to seek,  to find and to yields (Tennyson) 


Ships,  towers, domes, theatres and temples lie open unto the fields, and to the sky (Wordsworth) 


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