noun cri·te·ri·on \ krī-ˈtir-ē-ən also krə- \
|Updated on: 2 Aug 2018

Definition of criterion

plural criteria play \krī-ˈtir-ē-ə also krə-\ also criterions
1 : a standard on which a judgment or decision may be based
  • the university's criteria for admission
2 : a characterizing mark or trait

Is criteria singular or plural?

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

  1. 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 ShapiroNew York Times Book Review25 Dec. 1994
  2. … the induction committee waived its normal five-year retirement criteria for fear Kelley might never retire. —Todd BalfYankee4 Apr. 1992
  3. 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 Skylight1989
  4. What were the criteria used to choose the winner?

  5. one criterion for grading these essays will be their conformity to the rules of traditional grammar

Recent Examples of criterion from the Web

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

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

borrowed from Greek kritḗrion, from kri-, variant stem of krī́nein "to separate, choose, decide, judge" + -tērion, suffix of instruments — more at 1certain

Synonym Discussion of criterion

standard, criterion, gauge, yardstick, touchstone mean a means of determining what a thing should be. standard applies to any definite rule, principle, or measure established by authority.
    • standards of behavior
criterion may apply to anything used as a test of quality whether formulated as a rule or principle or not.
    • questioned the critic's criteria for excellence
gauge applies to a means of testing a particular dimension (such as thickness, depth, diameter) or figuratively a particular quality or aspect.
    • polls as a gauge of voter dissatisfaction
yardstick is an informal substitute for criterion that suggests quantity more often than quality.
    • housing construction as a yardstick of economic growth
touchstone suggests a simple test of the authenticity or value of something intangible.
    • fine service is one touchstone of a first-class restaurant

CRITERION Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of criterion for English Language Learners

  • : something that is used as a reason for making a judgment or decision

Seen and Heard

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