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

Smaller sacrifices, however, may be useless against the critical mass of popular disapproval that has accumulated while Zuckerberg struggled with his minimalist solution to the fake news issue. Leonid Bershidsky,, "Zuckerberg can't fix Facebook's quagmire," 23 Mar. 2018 Whenever there is a conference of theoretical physicists, critical mass is exceeded, and an explosion of more dark-matter-candidate particles is produced. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Making light twist into a bowtie may reveal dark matter," 12 Nov. 2018 Moreover, there remains a critical mass of Democrats and left-wing commentators who are eager to give the Clinton strategy of character assassination another go. Jason L. Riley, WSJ, "Democrats Struggle to Confront Trump-Era Reality," 30 Oct. 2018 But over time, a critical mass of Japanese firms had reached the technological forefront of industry. Christine Mcdaniel, Fortune, "Commentary: Tariffs Are the Wrong Way to Punish China for Stealing Our Technology," 22 Mar. 2018 And of course members have no way to know when their group is just short of critical mass. David Noonan, Scientific American, "The 25% Revolution—How Big Does a Minority Have to Be to Reshape Society?," 8 June 2018 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

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.

See More

First Known Use of critical mass

1919, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about critical mass

Share critical mass

Statistics for critical mass

Last Updated

10 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for critical mass

The first known use of critical mass was in 1919

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

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).


living or existing for a long time

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


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


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!