Definition of Chronic by Merriam-Webster



| ˈkrä-nik
How to pronounce chronic (audio)


: continuing or occurring again and again for a long time

chronic indigestion chronic experiments


: suffering from a chronic disease

the special needs of chronic patients


: always present or encountered


: constantly vexing, weakening, or troubling

chronic petty warfare chronic meddling in one another’s domestic affairs — Amatzia Baram


: being such habitually

a chronic grumbler

Other Words from chronic




ˈkrä-​ni-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce chronically (audio)



krä-​ˈni-​sə-​tē How to pronounce chronicity (audio)
, krō-​


Choose the Right Synonym for chronic

inveterate, confirmed, chronic mean firmly established. inveterate applies to a habit, attitude, or feeling of such long existence as to be practically ineradicable or unalterable.

an inveterate smoker

confirmed implies a growing stronger and firmer with time so as to resist change or reform.

a confirmed bachelor

chronic suggests something that is persistent or endlessly recurrent and troublesome.

a chronic complainer

Did You Know?

Chronic coughing goes on and on; chronic lateness occurs day after day; chronic lameness never seems to get any better. Unfortunately, situations that we call chronic almost always seem to be unpleasant. We never hear about chronic peace, but we do hear about chronic warfare. And we never speak of chronic health, only of chronic illness.

Examples of chronic in a Sentence

He suffers from chronic arthritis.

a chronic need for attention

Inflation has become a chronic condition in the economy.

Don’t bother seeing that film—it’s chronic.

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Recent Examples on the Web

Wonder, 69, is among 15% of U.S. adults who are estimated to have chronic kidney disease, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press, “Stevie Wonder has a living kidney donor. Here’s what that means.,” 9 July 2019

Pearsall, and about 30 million others in the country, suffer from dry eye, a chronic disease that occurs when people can no longer produce enough quality tears to lubricate the entire eye surface.

Catie Wegman,, “Dry eye on the rise: What to know about the chronic disease,” 8 July 2019

Researchers measured hair cortisol levels (an indicator of chronic stress) in dog-human dyads and found a strong degree of interspecies synchronization.

Daphne Miller, Washington Post, “A new meaning for ‘sick as a dog’? Your pet’s health may tell you something about your own,” 1 July 2019

Asthma is a chronic lung disease that, through the swelling of a person’s airways, obstructs the flow of air into and out of the lungs, said Dr. Vamsi Guntur, associate professor of medicine at National Jewish Health.

Rj Sangosti, The Denver Post, “The Long Shadow: Families in Elyria-Swansea struggle with asthma amid historic I-70 construction,” 30 June 2019

This is happening twenty-three years after researchers announced that AIDS would now be a manageable chronic disease.

Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, “Coming Out, and Rising Up, in the Fifty Years After Stonewall,” 28 June 2019

The new definition calls burnout syndrome the results of chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.

Gwen Moran, Fortune, “As Workplace Burnout Gets More Attention, Could More Tech Actually Be the Answer?,” 27 June 2019

Individuals have varying tolerance for dietary cholesterol, based on genetics or chronic diseases like diabetes.

Christine Byrne, Outside Online, “Are Eggs Bad for You? The Verdict Is Still Out.,” 15 June 2019

Some people experience accelerated aging as a result of chronic disease, mental illness, poverty, incarceration, or other medical and social circumstances.

Louise Aronson, Twin Cities, “Louise Aronson: I’m a geriatrician, and I’m fine with an 80-year-old running for president,” 14 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word ‘chronic.’ Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of chronic

1601, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for chronic

French chronique, from Greek chronikos of time, from chronos

Learn More about chronic

Statistics for chronic

Last Updated

12 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

More Definitions for chronic


| ˈkrä-nik
How to pronounce chronic (audio)

Kids Definition of chronic


: continuing for a long time or returning often

a chronic disease


: happening or done frequently or by habit

a chronic complainer chronic tardiness

Other Words from chronic





| ˈkrän-ik
How to pronounce chronic (audio)

also chronical -​i-​kəl How to pronounce chronical (audio)

Medical Definition of chronic

 (Entry 1 of 2)


: marked by long duration, by frequent recurrence over a long time, and often by slowly progressing seriousness : not acute

chronic indigestion her hallucinations became chronic


: suffering from a disease or ailment of long duration or frequent recurrence

a chronic arthritic chronic sufferers from asthma


: having a slow progressive course of indefinite duration

—used especially of degenerative invasive diseases, some infections, psychoses, and inflammations chronic heart diseasechronic arthritischronic tuberculosis

— compare acute sense 2b(1)


: infected with a disease-causing agent (as a virus) and remaining infectious over a long period of time but not necessarily expressing symptoms

chronic carriers may remain healthy but still transmit the virus causing hepatitis B

Other Words from chronic


-​i-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce chronically (audio)



krä-​ˈnis-​ət-​ē, krō-​ How to pronounce chronicity (audio)


plural chronicities

Medical Definition of chronic (Entry 2 of 2)

: one that suffers from a chronic disease

Comments on chronic

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