1. A vessel made of a refractory substance such as graphite or porcelain, used for melting and calcining materials at high temperatures.
a. An extremely difficult experience or situation; a severe test or trial: "the emotional crucible of a wartime deployment" (Kristin Henderson). See Synonyms at trial.
b. A place, time, or situation in which different social forces or intellectual influences come together and cause new developments: "Macroeconomics ... was cast in the crucible of the Depression" (Peter Passell).
[Middle English crusible, from Medieval Latin crūcibulum, night-light, crucible, possibly from Old French croisuel, cresset; see CRESSET.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.