1. The word is derived via Latin from a Greek root meaning ‘turning point’, and should strictly refer to a moment rather than a continuing process, so that uses such as a prolonged crisis are strictly speaking self-contradictory. However, a word as useful as crisis will not allow itself to be strait-jacketed in this way, and many examples of the disputed use will be found:

• The continuing and ever occurring crisis in the inner-cities, where large numbers of people are trapped in a cycle of poverty —Black Panther, 1973

• The fact that today we are in deep and continuing crisis is evident from other sources than the Morning Star —Morning Star, 2002.

Some element of change should be present in the meaning

• (The death of his father…triggers off a crisis for him too, producing a temporary breakdown, dismissal from his job, separation from his wife, the lot —Times, 1970)

and the word should not be used as an enfeebled synonym of words such as difficulty, dilemma, problem, and quandary

• (Scott Lithgow…were desperate for staff throughout the crisis —Economist, 1975

• To make matters worse a crisis in the Council came to a head —W. Green, 1988)

• Down came the rain again. Faced with the crisis of surrendering the proudest record in rugby, Munster dug deep again —Observer, 2007.

2. Crisis is often used with a defining word, either an adjective or an attributive noun as in economic crisis, energy crisis, financial crisis, food crisis, hostage crisis, identity crisis, midlife crisis, refugee crisis, etc. It has also come to be used with the redundant addition of situation, a use that should be avoided:

• ☒ When a crisis situation with a pupil arises, exclusion follows too rapidly —Guardian, 2003.

3. The plural crises is often found in uses that are contrary to expectation on a strict evaluation of the word's meaning:

• Three simultaneous crises…that seemed worrisomely different from those of the past —Newsweek, 1973.

Modern English usage. 2014.

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