critical mass


Definition of critical mass

: a size, number, or amount large enough to produce a particular result the critical mass of activity needed for a retail store

Examples of critical mass in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Perhaps the justices—or at least a critical mass of them—felt no need to upset the lower courts’ work in interpreting Heller so far. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "The Supreme Court’s First Major Gun Case in a Decade," 14 Aug. 2019 FivePoint plans to build the first phase all at once to create a critical mass of residents and workers in the neighborhood. J.k. Dineen,, "Huge Candlestick project going ahead as cleanup scandal keeps Hunters Point Shipyard on hold," 25 June 2019 Reaching critical mass Despite that early instance, protests at airports are mostly a phenomenon of the last 20 years, when air travel has ballooned, says Schaberg. Katherine Dunn, Fortune, "From the Civil Rights Era to Hong Kong: How Airports Became a Global Symbol of Protest," 21 Aug. 2019 Individual shows or albums can’t kill or save us, but a critical mass either way shapes our cultural foundation. Soraya Roberts, Longreads, "Won’t You Be My Neighbor: An Anti-Hate Pop Culture Syllabus," 9 Aug. 2019 Maduro, however, refused to step aside and Guaidó has not been successful in urging the critical mass of soldiers to support his cause. Fox News, "Maduro displays military power in Independence Day celebration," 6 July 2019 To create peace, each gang must broker agreements with its main enemies while building a critical mass of support within its own ranks. Nicole Santa Cruz, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Nipsey Hussle’s death unified Crips and Bloods in grief. Now, peace talks carry on his call," 23 June 2019 The idea in each case is to create an experience that can engage a critical mass of players for hundreds or even thousands of hours over a span of years. Angela Watercutter, WIRED, "In Praise of Ultra-Short Videogames," 8 June 2019 The National Geographic Society, joining with other large conservation organizations, has called for 30 percent of the world to be protected in some way by 2030, to help safeguard a critical mass of the planet's species. Sarah Gibbens, National Geographic, "50 dramatic photos of life on Earth," 22 Apr. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'critical mass.' 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 mass

1919, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

15 Oct 2019

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The first known use of critical mass was in 1919

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More Definitions for critical mass

critical mass


Financial Definition of critical mass

What It Is

Critical mass refers to the size a company needs to reach in order to efficiently and competitively participate in the market. This is also the size a company must attain in order to sustain growth and efficiency.

How It Works

A company's critical mass is determined by the size of its staff, resources, revenues, and market share. Once these elements reach the size that enables a company to operate efficiently, it is said that a company has reached its critical mass. Critical mass is the point at which a company becomes profitable.

To illustrate a company's critical mass, consider Company XYZ which was recently formed and has been experiencing steady growth and increasing strength in the market. The company’s steady revenues allowed Company XYZ to invest in more capital and to hire additional employees. XYZ's productivity subsequently increased and their revenues exceed their expenses: XYZ then becomes profitable. The company is said to have reached its critical mass, since its capital and human resources have reached a size at which they can sustain themselves through productive efficiency.

Why It Matters

A company's critical mass is important to consider because it can mean the difference between thriving and surviving in a market environment. A company that sustains profitability is safely above its critical mass.

Source: Investing Answers

critical mass


English Language Learners Definition of critical mass

technical : an amount of material (such as plutonium) that is large enough to allow a nuclear reaction to occur
: the size, number, or amount of something that is needed to cause a particular result

More from Merriam-Webster on critical mass

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with critical mass Encyclopedia article about critical mass

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