Definition of critical
1a : 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 temperatureb : crucial, decisive a critical testc : indispensable, vital a critical waterfowl habitat a component critical to the operation of a machined : being in or approaching a state of crisis a critical shortage a critical situation
2a : 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 proposald : including variant readings and scholarly emendations a critical edition
3a : of sufficient size to sustain a chain reaction —used of a mass of fissionable material a critical massb : sustaining a nuclear chain reaction The reactor went critical.
criticalityplay \ˌkri-tə-ˈka-lə-tē\ noun
criticallyplay \ˈkri-ti-k(ə-)lē\ adverb
criticalnessplay \ˈkri-ti-kəl-nəs\ noun
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 of critical from the Web
After being shot in the hip during the early stages of baseball practice on June 14, the Congressman was rushed to hospital and considered to be in critical condition.
Coast Guard officials said the teen pulled from the water was taken to a local hospital in Gulf County and is listed in critical condition at this time.
Media polls show that the German press ran the most negative appraisals of Trump of all global news (98 percent of all coverage was critical).
He was taken in critical condition to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
Of the six people wounded in the shooting, two had been transferred to Mount Sinai Hospital by Sunday and remained in critical but stable condition.
In the end, when the case was made to the U.S. Congress that these women had been soldiers, the uniform became a critical piece of evidence.
The relationship has soured as Brzezinski and Scarborough have repeatedly been critical of Trump’s actions and policies as President.
But the need for critical thinking, clear writing, appreciation of culture, and knowledge of history is more vital than ever.
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.
Origin and Etymology of 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) + 1-al; in sense “inclined to criticize, involving criticism,” from 1critic + 1-al — more at 1critic
First Known Use: 1547See Words from the same year
Synonym Discussion of critical
synonyms see in addition acute
CRITICAL Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of critical for English Language Learners
: 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
CRITICAL Defined for Kids
Definition of critical for Students
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.
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 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 feverb: 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 materialb: sustaining a chain reaction—used of a nuclear reactor
Seen and Heard
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