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

The EVs are coming, the EVs are coming Despite the flailing of the Trump administration and backward looking fossil-fuel supporters, momentum around electrification is reaching critical mass. David Roberts, Vox, "Trump might like dirty cars, but electric vehicles are coming anyway," 26 June 2018 The trading in Tesla's stock Thursday suggests that doubts about Musk's role at the company may be reaching a critical mass. Michael Hiltzik,, "Elon Musk's performance on Tesla's earnings call could make people afraid to buy his stock — or his cars," 3 May 2018 Nearly 18 months after taking office, his accomplishments have reached something of a critical mass, with Republicans rallying around him over wins that have thrilled the party base from social conservatives to defense hawks. Matt Viser,, "‘When are Republicans going to stand up to Trump? Never.’ Here’s why," 15 June 2018 Neimeyer hopes a critical mass of households at Mertarvik opens up more funds from federal agencies for say, additional roads or utilities. Alex Demarban, Anchorage Daily News, "$15 million in spending bill a ‘dream come true’ as Alaska village plans move," 26 Mar. 2018 Digital First operates papers in Lowell and Fitchburg, adjacent to CNHI’s Merrimack Valley communities, and probably wants more critical mass here after buying the Herald. Jon Chesto,, "Newspapers north of Boston may be in two chains’ sights," 26 June 2018 Published this week in Science, the paper describes an online experiment in which researchers sought to determine what percentage of total population a minority needs to reach the critical mass necessary to reverse a majority viewpoint. David Noonan, Scientific American, "The 25% Revolution—How Big Does a Minority Have to Be to Reshape Society?," 8 June 2018 Justin Theroux, Alicia Vikander, Shailene Woodley, Tiffany Haddish all arrived, until by 2 a.m. critical mass seemed to have been reached. H.w. Vail, Vanities, "Jennifer Lopez Danced to Her Own Song at Balmain’s Met Gala After-Party," 8 May 2018 Between 2006 and 2008—before the global financial crisis tanked the markets and e-commerce hit critical mass—private equity firms sat on record amounts of money pumped in by gigantic investors like pension funds and wealthy individuals. Phil Wahba, Fortune, "Retail Reckoning: How Private Equity Is Boosting Some Brands and Crushing Others," 24 Apr. 2018

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 2018

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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

: 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

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