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 materiala critical mass
b : sustaining a nuclear chain reaction The reactor went critical.

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Other Words from critical

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web What’s known as biodiversity is critical because the natural variety of plants and animals lends each species greater resiliency against threat and together offers a delicately balanced safety net for natural systems. Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica, "How Climate Change Is Contributing to Skyrocketing Rates of Infectious Disease," 7 May 2020 The size of Kay’s wheels would also have been critical. Cody Cassidy, Wired, "Who Invented the Wheel? And How Did They Do It?," 6 May 2020 That is critical for those schools in an era when state appropriations fund a smaller share of their operating budgets. Washington Post, "Colleges need students to decide. Students aren’t ready. And everyone’s nervous about fall.," 6 May 2020 The motorcycle passenger died at the scene and the driver was taken to Froedtert Hospital in critical condition, said West Allis Police Lt. Meg Jones, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "One person killed, one injured in motorcycle crash in West Allis," 3 May 2020 The counts are critical for understanding how migratory birds are faring and are a high point for avid birders each year. Gillian Flaccus, BostonGlobe.com, "Bird-watching soars amid coronavirus as Americans head outdoors," 2 May 2020 Also critical was that employees know when common areas have been cleaned, so GM started putting up signs in restrooms and break rooms that said the time the area was last disinfected. Jamie L. Lareau, Detroit Free Press, "1,000 GM workers in Texas tested automaker's new COVID-19 safety protocols," 1 May 2020 Amid job losses, reduced income and other economic hardships caused by the pandemic, taking steps to protect one’s credit can be critical. Cheryl Winokur Munk, WSJ, "How to Protect Your Credit if Your Income Takes a Hit," 30 Apr. 2020 Our outpouring of thanks is the flip side of a tacit acceptance that the N.H.S. is in critical condition, on borrowed time and life support. Geoff Dyer, The New Yorker, "The False Positives, False Negatives, and Positive Negatives of the Coronavirus," 30 Apr. 2020

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for critical

Time Traveler

The first known use of critical was in 1547

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Statistics for critical

Last Updated

11 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Critical.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/critical. Accessed 24 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for critical

critical

adjective
How to pronounce critical (audio)

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

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Comments on critical

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