Origin of Crucial
The meaning “decisive, critical” is extended from a logical term, Instantias Crucis, adopted by Francis Bacon in his influential Novum Organum (1620); the notion is of cross fingerboard signposts at forking roads, thus a requirement to choose. Specific quote is:
From New Latin (īnstantia) crucis, (experīmentum) crucis crossroads (case), crossroads (experiment) from Latin crux cruc- cross Sense 2, French from Old French from Latin crux
From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition
1706, from French crucial, a medical term for ligaments of the knee (which cross each other), from Latin crux, crucis (“cross”) (English crux), from the Proto-Indo-European *(s)ker- (“to turn, to bend”).
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