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 Then, in 2017, Justin Bieber was able to draw more than 30,000 people on a weekday during the muggy month of May in Mumbai, another sign that India's audience for foreign music acts had reached a critical mass. Amit Gurbaxani, Billboard, "U2 to Make India Concert Debut, Marking Turning Point for Country as Global Touring Destination," 17 Sep. 2019 The story doesn’t advance so much as thicken, reaching a critical mass of absurdist misapprehensions. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Fiction: A Critical Mass of Absurdist Misapprehensions," 30 Nov. 2018 The big banks have yet to convince a critical mass of other institutions to make the investments required to connect to it, however. Washington Post, "Liz Weston: Speedier payment systems could curb your costs," 4 Nov. 2019 If Facebook could engineer a social network in which tokens behaved more like dollars than likes, and got a critical mass of people to use it, many of them might come to depend on that network to meet their real-world needs. John Pavlus,, "The truth about Libra," 7 Oct. 2019 That’s far from the critical mass of 1 million that some researchers say is needed to solve cold cases with regularity. Jon Schuppe, NBC News, "Police were cracking cold cases with a DNA website. Then the fine print changed.," 23 Oct. 2019 Bias is most intense in fields that are predominantly male, where women lack a critical mass of representation and are often viewed as tokens or outsiders. Mary K. Feeney, Quartz, "Why don’t more women win science Nobels?," 11 Oct. 2019 But broad support for the notion that Mr Trump’s conduct was impeachable is not enough to convince a critical mass of Republican senators. The Economist, "Call and response Is Donald Trump’s playbook up to the challenge of impeachment?," 2 Oct. 2019 And when the number of people who can theoretically collaborate on a project scales up into the billions, your chance of yoking together a critical mass of volunteers goes up exponentially. Zeynep Tufekci, WIRED, "Altruism Still Fuels the Web. Businesses Love to Exploit It," 20 Aug. 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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Time Traveler for critical mass

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The first known use of critical mass was in 1919

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Statistics for critical mass

Last Updated

10 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Critical mass.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 13 December 2019.

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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

Comments on critical mass

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


easily led, controlled, or managed

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