Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for June 22, 2020 is:
crux • KRUKS • noun
1 : a puzzling or difficult problem : an unsolved question
2 : an essential point requiring resolution or resolving an outcome
3 : a main or central feature (as of an argument)
“Manipulation is a key trait of individuals with controlling personalities. Call it gaslighting, whitewashing, or rewriting the script: The crux of the matter is the manipulator’s desire to control the narrative and either be the hero or the victim.” — Kristy Lee Hochenberger, Psychology Today, 22 Feb. 2020
“[David] Leib [chair of microbiology and immunology at Dartmouth College] said one of the challenges of combating COVID-19 in humans is the fact that viruses hijack our cells. ‘This is really the crux of the reason why it has been so hard to develop antiviral drugs, because almost any drug that will stop viruses dead in [their] tracks will also stop our cells dead in their tracks,’ he said.” — Gabrielle Emanuel, WGBH.org, 27 Apr. 2020
Did you know?
In Latin, crux referred literally to an instrument of torture, often a cross or stake, and figuratively to the torture and misery inflicted by means of such an instrument. Crux eventually developed the sense of “a puzzling or difficult problem”; that was the first meaning that was used when the word entered English in the early 18th century. Later, in the late 19th century, crux began to be used more specifically to refer to an essential point of a legal case that required resolution before the case as a whole could be resolved. Today, the verdict on crux is that it can be used to refer to any important part of a problem or argument, inside or outside of the courtroom.