critical

adjective
crit·​i·​cal | \ ˈkri-ti-kəl How to pronounce critical (audio) \

Definition of critical

1a : inclined to criticize severely and unfavorably His critical temperament cost him several friends.
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 a critical commentary on the mayor's proposal
d : including variant readings and scholarly emendations a critical edition
2a : of, relating to, or being a turning point or specially important juncture a critical phase : such 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 : indispensable, vital a critical waterfowl habitat a component critical to the operation of a machine
c : being in or approaching a state of crisis a critical shortage a critical situation
d : crucial, decisive a critical test
3a : 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.

Other Words from critical

critically \ ˈkri-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce critical (audio) \ adverb
criticalness \ ˈkri-​ti-​kəl-​nəs How to pronounce critical (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of critical in a Sentence

The program presents a critical analysis of the government's strategies. She has a talent for critical thinking. We need to look at these proposed changes with a critical eye before we accept them.
Recent Examples on the Web She, too, was taken to a hospital in critical condition. Scott D. Pierce, The Salt Lake Tribune, 13 May 2022 The driver remains in critical condition at an area hospital. Erik S. Hanley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 12 May 2022 The two people in critical condition were transferred to a hospital in the capital Ljubljana. Ali Zerdin, ajc, 12 May 2022 The emergence has to do with hitting the right soil temperatures, and southern states are usually the first to reach the critical soil temperature exceeding 64 degrees. Emily Deletter, USA TODAY, 11 May 2022 The emergence has to do with hitting the right soil temperatures, and southern states are usually the first to reach the critical soil temperature exceeding 64 degrees. Emily Deletter, The Enquirer, 11 May 2022 Smith was in critical condition when he was transported to St. Barnabas Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead, Fox 5 reported. Lawrence Richard, Fox News, 11 May 2022 One person died and four others are in serious to critical condition after a shooting in the Back of the Yards neighborhood Tuesday afternoon, fire officials said. Stephanie Casanova, Chicago Tribune, 11 May 2022 Abu Akleh, who had been wearing a protective vest identifying her as a member of the press, was shot in the head and was rushed in critical condition to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead, according to the health ministry. Bybruno Nota, ABC News, 11 May 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of critical

1547, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

History and Etymology for critical

in sense "being at a turning point," from 16th-17th century cretike, criticke "at a turning point" (Middle English cretic, borrowed from Late Latin criticus "at a turning point, decisive," borrowed from Greek kritikós, taken as derivative of krísis crisis, replacing earlier krísimos) + -al entry 1; in sense "inclined to criticize, involving criticism," from critic entry 1 + -al entry 1 — more at critic entry 1

Learn More About critical

Time Traveler for critical

Time Traveler

The first known use of critical was in 1547

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near critical

critic

critical

critical angle

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for critical

Last Updated

16 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Critical.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/critical. Accessed 26 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for critical

critical

adjective
crit·​i·​cal | \ ˈkri-ti-kəl How to pronounce critical (audio) \

Kids Definition of critical

1 : likely or eager to find fault
2 : consisting of or involving judgment of value, worth, beauty, or quality critical writings
3 : using or involving careful judgment a critical examination of a patient
4 : extremely important It is critical that you follow the instructions exactly.

Other Words from critical

critically adverb

critical

adjective
crit·​i·​cal | \ ˈkrit-i-kəl How to pronounce critical (audio) \

Medical Definition of critical

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
2a : of sufficient size to sustain a chain reaction used of a mass of fissionable material
b : sustaining a chain reaction used of a nuclear reactor

Other Words from critical

critically \ -​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce critical (audio) \ adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on critical

Nglish: Translation of critical for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of critical for Arabic Speakers

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Eponyms: Words Named After People

How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!