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.

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Priestdaddy was a critical and commercial success, but the years after its publication were painful. Joanne Mcneil, Vulture, "Patricia Lockwood’s Infinite Scroll," 12 Feb. 2021 The considerations behind Bloom’s decision to include her books may have been personal, but only in the sense that artistic and critical taste is always personal. New York Times, "Personal Canons, Foster Care and Other Letters to the Editor," 12 Feb. 2021 The budget also proposes $300 million from the general fund for local governments to replace or repair up to 129 local bridges that are in serious or critical condition. Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, "Gov. Whitmer reveals $67B Michigan budget plan: Here's what's in it," 11 Feb. 2021 Few, if any, were critical or commercial successes. Jillian Steinhauer, The New Republic, "The Unheroic Life of Stan Lee," 9 Feb. 2021 There is overwhelming evidence that masks are effective, and critical for achieving control of the coronavirus without lockdowns. Atul Gawande, The New Yorker, "Inside the Worst-Hit County in the Worst-Hit State in the Worst-Hit Country," 8 Feb. 2021 More than 15 years later, Okorodudu, an assistant professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center, leads a national movement to inspire more Black men to become doctors. Anna Kuchment, Dallas News, "A Dallas doctor amplifies his call for more Black MDs," 4 Feb. 2021 The Pavarotti film was a commercial and critical dud, so the Bergmans lucked out with that nod. Paul Grein, Billboard, "In 1983, Alan & Marilyn Bergman Were First to Land 3 Oscar Nods for Best Song in 1 Year," 4 Feb. 2021 Citadel Securities, the electronic-trading firm owned by hedge-fund billionaire Ken Griffin, has played a quiet but critical role in the frenzy of the last two weeks. Alexander Osipovich, WSJ, "GameStop Frenzy Puts Spotlight on Trading Giant Citadel Securities," 31 Jan. 2021

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for critical

Time Traveler

The first known use of critical was in 1547

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Statistics for critical

Last Updated

21 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Critical.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/critical. Accessed 27 Feb. 2021.

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More Definitions for critical

critical

adjective

English Language Learners 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

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

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Comments on critical

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