The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Climax \Cli"max\, n. [L., from Gr. ? ladder, staircase, fr. ? to
make to bend, to lean. See Ladder, Lean, v. i.]
1. Upward movement; steady increase; gradation; ascent.
2. (Rhet.) A figure in which the parts of a sentence or
paragraph are so arranged that each succeeding one rises
above its predecessor in impressiveness.
"Tribulation worketh patience, patience experience,
and experience hope" -- a happy climax. --J. D.
3. The highest point; the greatest degree.
We must look higher for the climax of earthly good.
To cap the climax, to surpass everything, as in excellence
or in absurdity. [Colloq.]