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adjective crit·i·cal \ˈkri-ti-kəl\

Simple Definition of critical

  • : expressing criticism or disapproval

  • : of or relating to the judgments of critics about books, movies, art, etc.

  • : using or involving careful judgment about the good and bad parts of something

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of critical

  1. 1 a :  of, relating to, or being a turning point or specially important juncture <a critical phase>: as (1) :  relating to or being the stage of a disease at which an abrupt change for better or worse may be expected; also :  being or relating to an illness or condition involving danger of death <critical care> <a patient listed in critical condition> (2) :  relating to or being a state in which or a measurement or point at which some quality, property, or phenomenon suffers a definite change <critical temperature> b :  crucial, decisive <a critical test> c :  indispensable, vital <a critical waterfowl habitat> <a component critical to the operation of a machine> d :  being in or approaching a state of crisis <a critical shortage> <a critical situation>

  2. 2 a :  inclined to criticize severely and unfavorably b :  consisting of or involving criticism <critical writings>; also :  of or relating to the judgment of critics <the play was a critical success> c :  exercising or involving careful judgment or judicious evaluation <critical thinking> d :  including variant readings and scholarly emendations <a critical edition>

  3. 3 a :  of sufficient size to sustain a chain reaction —used of a mass of fissionable material <a critical mass> b :  sustaining a nuclear chain reaction <the reactor went critical>


play \ˌkri-tə-ˈka-lə-tē\ noun


play \ˈkri-ti-k(ə-)lē\ adverb


play \-kəl-nəs\ noun

Examples of critical in a sentence

  1. The program presents a critical analysis of the government's strategies.

  2. She has a talent for critical thinking.

  3. We need to look at these proposed changes with a critical eye before we accept them.


First Known Use of critical


Synonym Discussion of critical

critical, hypercritical, faultfinding, captious, carping, censorious mean inclined to look for and point out faults and defects. critical may also imply an effort to see a thing clearly and truly in order to judge it fairly <a critical essay>. hypercritical suggests a tendency to judge by unreasonably strict standards <hypercritical disparagement of other people's work>. faultfinding implies a querulous or exacting temperament <a faultfinding reviewer>. captious suggests a readiness to detect trivial faults or raise objections on trivial grounds <a captious critic>. carping implies an ill-natured or perverse picking of flaws <a carping editorial>. censorious implies a disposition to be severely critical and condemnatory <the censorious tone of the review>.

synonyms see in addition acute

CRITICAL Defined for Kids


adjective crit·i·cal \ˈkri-ti-kəl\

Definition of critical for Students

  1. 1 :  likely or eager to find fault

  2. 2 :  consisting of or involving judgment of value, worth, beauty, or quality <critical writings>

  3. 3 :  using or involving careful judgment <a critical examination of a patient>

  4. 4 :  extremely important <It is critical that you follow the instructions exactly.>



Word Root of critical

The Greek word kritikos, meaning “able to judge,” gives us the root critic. Words from the Greek kritikos have something to do with judging. A critic is someone who judges the value or quality or something, such as a movie or book. Someone critical makes a lot of judgments and usually decides that things are not good. To criticize is to make a judgment that something is not good.

Medical Dictionary


adjective crit·i·cal \ˈkrit-i-kəl\

Medical Definition of critical

  1. 1a:  relating to, indicating, or being the stage of a disease at which an abrupt change for better or worse may be anticipated with reasonable certainty <the critical phase of a fever>b:  being or relating to an illness or condition involving danger of death <critical care> <a critical head injury>

  2. 2a:  of sufficient size to sustain a chain reaction—used of a mass of fissionable materialb:  sustaining a chain reaction—used of a nuclear reactor


\-k(ə-)lē\play adverb

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