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.

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from critical

criticality \ ˌkri-​tə-​ˈka-​lə-​tē How to pronounce criticality (audio) \ noun
critically \ ˈkri-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce critically (audio) \ adverb
criticalness \ ˈkri-​ti-​kəl-​nəs How to pronounce criticalness (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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Fairweather has been critical of the Duke in recent weeks for not directly reaching out to those involved in the accident. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Prince Philip Says He's 'Deeply Sorry' About His Recent Car Accident," 27 Jan. 2019 The lack of accountability is one reason why Jamil has been openly critical of celebrities who cash in on diet culture. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "Jameela Jamil Is a Force for Revolutionary Self-Acceptance," 25 Feb. 2019 Boasting some 200,000 troops and 1.7 million militiamen, Venezuela’s armed forces command not just the nation’s firepower but many key sectors of the economy as well, making their backing critical. Fabiola Sanchez, The Seattle Times, "AP Explains: Venezuela opposition’s fight to win over troops," 20 Feb. 2019 O’Rourke, meanwhile, is vocally critical of Trump’s policies. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "6 Things Barack Obama and Beto O'Rourke Could Discuss Other Than the 2020 Election," 6 Dec. 2018 Pipeline construction would cut through the southern end of the Atchafalaya Basin, one of the last critical swamp habitats in the world, which is home to more than 65 species of reptiles and amphibians and more than 200 species of birds and fish. Mary Lovell, Teen Vogue, "Bayou Bridge Pipeline Meets Resistance from the L’eau Est La Vie Camp," 16 Oct. 2018 Separately, Panasonic already has invested in a battery factory with U.S. electric car maker Tesla Inc. Innovations in batteries are critical for electric vehicles, with charging times and costs key obstacles. Yuri Kageyama, The Seattle Times, "Toyota, Panasonic announce venture for green auto batteries," 23 Jan. 2019 Having women’s voices at the table is critical for a number of reasons. Rebecca Nelson, Marie Claire, "2019's Barrier-Breaking Politicians Get to Work," 3 Jan. 2019 The report is particularly critical of Google for providing evidence that Russians bought ads as images and in PDF format, which isn’t machine-readable, instead of file formats that would have been easier for data scientists to analyze. Emily Stewart, Vox, "Reports to Senate criticize social media giants for providing incomplete data in Russia probe," 17 Dec. 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about critical

Statistics for critical

Last Updated

17 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for critical

The first known use of critical was in 1547

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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 critically (audio) \ adverb

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on critical

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for critical

Spanish Central: Translation of critical

Nglish: Translation of critical for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of critical for Arabic Speakers

Comments on critical

What made you want to look up critical? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

grandiloquent, ostentatious, or bombastic

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt-painting-a-young-scholar-and-his-tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

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!