Simple Definition of criterion
: something that is used as a reason for making a judgment or decision
Usage Discussion of criterion
The plural criteria has been used as a singular for over half a century <let me now return to the third criteria — R. M. Nixon> <that really is the criteria — Bert Lance>. Many of our examples, like the two foregoing, are taken from speech. But singular criteria is not uncommon in edited prose, and its use both in speech and writing seems to be increasing. Only time will tell whether it will reach the unquestioned acceptability of agenda.
Examples of criterion in a sentence
There is really only one criterion for a grab bag of culinary facts and anecdotes like this: It has to make you look up occasionally and remark, “Hey! I never knew that.” —Laura Shapiro, New York Times Book Review, 25 Dec. 1994
… the induction committee waived its normal five-year retirement criteria for fear Kelley might never retire. —Todd Balf, Yankee, 4 Apr. 1992
Christo argues that art must be measured by its effect on the shape of a community. By this criterion Running Fence was enormously successful. —O. B. Hardison, Jr., Disappearing Through the Skylight, 1989
What were the criteria used to choose the winner?
<one criterion for grading these essays will be their conformity to the rules of traditional grammar>
Did You Know?
One person's principal criterion for a new car may be its gas mileage, while someone else's may be whether it has room for four children. When filling a job opening, employers usually look for several criteria (notice the plural form) in the applicants; and when college admissions officers are reading student applications, they likewise always keep a few basic criteria in mind. And when interviewing an applicant, one criterion for both the employer and the admissions officer might include the size of the applicant's vocabulary!
Origin and Etymology of criterion
Greek kritērion, from krinein to judge, decide — more at certain
First Known Use: 1622
Synonym Discussion of criterion
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up criterion? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).