US and Russia hold crunch london talks on Ukraine.

My intuition is that there are a lot of groans while speaking to each other? Is that right?!

Could you also simplify "hold crunch" in this sentence, please?

  • Crunch is an "onomatopoeic" word, one which imitates a sound: it originally meant (as a verb) to crush something with the teeth or by walking on it or (as a noun) the sound produced by that crushing. In the 20th century the sense was extended to situations which produce a (figurative) "crunch" -- situations of high pressure and tension. Here crunch is used as attributive noun, modifying talks. Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 15:53
  • The phrase "hold crunch" doesn't mean anything. The idiomatic expression is "hold talks", which means to have meetings to talk about something; "crunch" and "London" are adjectives which modify the "talks."
    – Chad
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 17:43

1 Answer 1


When you're "in the crunch" or it's "crunch time" then the time is a critical one where actions can "make or break" whatever purpose is intended. So, the US and Russia are holding talks in London about the Ukraine, and the result of these talks is likely to be decisive in some sort of way. The implication of the headline is that the US and Russia are making a last-ditch attempt to resolve the issues between them by diplomacy before more substantive steps are taken.

  • Could be that it's used in place of "emergency" due to headline space considerations.
    – Roger
    Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 17:09
  • No. :) Emergency doesn't have quite the same meaning. It's the World Cup. The US is playing Algeria, and need a win to advance to the knockout stage. It's 1-1, and there are 10 minutes left in regular time. That's crunch time.
    – BobRodes
    Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 21:44
  • Closely related is "in the clutch" and by extension "clutch talks". However, clutch has the feeling of focusing more on the people involved and less on the situation. For example, now there are two minutes left in extra time, it's still 1-1, and Algeria is going for the draw. It looks like the US is going home early. But wait! Here comes Landon Donovan, flying down the left. He's through! HE SCORES! GREAT CLUTCH GOAL BY LANDON DONOVAN! The heretofore soccer-hating Americans go bananas all over the country. Every taxi in New York is honking its horn. Oh wait, they do that anyway...
    – BobRodes
    Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 21:46
  • 1
    I agree that it's not a synonym in most usages. In this context, though, I think it does have the same meaning. "US and Russia hold emergency London talks on Ukraine". This isn't rugby; it's international relations, which is altogether more brutal.
    – Roger
    Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 22:21
  • I'm sorry, Roger, I was reading "could it be" in your first comment for some reason. I didn't mean to sound contradictory. Upon reflection, I agree with your second comment.
    – BobRodes
    Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 13:18

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