Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Climatic or climactic?

Yes, there are two different words with two different meanings. It is confusing because they sound very much the same, so one can be forgiven for using them in the wrong context. But that’s why it’s important to investigate and learn new things, perhaps by reading blog posts like these.

To highlight this lesson I’m going to use Lord of the Rings. No one is really surprised.

In The Return of the King when the Ring (yes, this ring gets a capital because Tolkien said so) finally gets destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom, it’s emotional, exciting, and dramatic. But it’s also a climax of the film, so we can also describe it as climactic. It’s a good word to use when there is a climax.
Another climactic moment occurs in The Two Towers when Aragorn and Theoden lead their army out of the gates at sunrise, and Gandalf and Eomer arrive shortly after to help them win the battle for Helm’s Deep. And it’s also probably my favourite scene ever, but that’s beside the point.

The other word is climatic. Notice the difference?
Climatic has one less “c” in it, and it refers to the climate. You might use it like this:
“Climatic factors occasionally hinder the characters on their journey through Middle Earth.”
Or, the non-geek version:
“Predictable climatic conditions make it easier to plan holidays.”

So, how will you remember which is which?

The way I see it, climatic is pretty easy. It sounds a lot like the word it belongs to: climate.
Just take climate and replace the e with ic.

And I remember climactic belongs to climax because of the extra c. I like to look at the extra c as representing the x in climax. The x is a reminder that there is something extra involved in this word, so chuck in an extra c.
I hope that helps!

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